Arthur Conan Doyle's detective will detect sand-grain-sized clues in Martian rocks onboard NASA's Perseverance rover
SHERLOC’s complete name is Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has named an instrument on the end of the rover's robotic arm after Arthur Conan Doyle’s famed creation Sherlock Holmes. The device will hunt for sand-grain-sized clues in Martian rocks. The US space agency’s SHERLOC will work in sync with WATSON, a camera that will take close-up pictures of rock textures.
The Perseverance rover mission is aimed at searching for signs of ancient microbial life. “It's the first leg of the first round trip from Earth to Mars and back. We're hoping in the 2030s that we will be bringing those samples back here to Earth,” reported BBC quoting Lori Glaze, director of the agency's planetary science division.
SHERLOC was developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, while WATSON was built at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego.
“For the most promising rocks, the Perseverance team will command the rover to take half-inch-wide core samples, store and seal them in metal tubes, and deposit them on the surface of Mars so that a future mission can return them to Earth for more detailed study,” said the agency.
SHERLOC’s complete name is Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals. Raman in its name refers to Raman spectroscopy, a technique named after CV Raman, an Indian physicist who discovered the light-scattering effect in the 1920s.
Using Raman’s scattering effect, “scientists can identify different molecules based on the distinctive spectral "fingerprint" visible in their emitted light.”
The device is equipped with an ultraviolet laser that will allow the team to classify organics and minerals present in a rock on the Red planet.
The NASA earlier this month announced that started putting the Mars-bound rover and other components into the configuration that will ride on top of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
The mission will be launched between 17 July and 5 August and its duration will be around 687 Earth days.
The $85 million tech demo was supposed to end a few days ago, but NASA extended the mission by at least a month to get more flying time.
The mission dubbed Ax-1 is to last around 10 days, said Axiom Space president and CEO Michael Suffredini.
During an initial uncrewed test flight in December 2019, the Starliner capsule failed to dock at the ISS and returned to Earth prematurely.