After 6 months of effort, the life-finder 'Sherlock' was revived


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SHERLOCK (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) has been revived by the Perseverance Mars Rover team after 6 months of effort.
This is an important instrument used to search for microbial life on Mars. This instrument is installed on NASA's Perseverance Rover.

The rover uses two camera lenses and a laser spectrometer located on the rover's robotic arm to search for organic compounds, minerals and rocks on the Martian surface.

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SHERLOC had been out of order for about six months due to a small motor responsible for moving the protective lens cover and adjusting the focus for the spectrometer, a malfunction caused by dust that prevented the instrument from functioning properly.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) implemented various strategies to solve the problem, including heating the motors, working on the rover's robotic arm and drilling to free the cover.

The team worked further on this issue until March, when they were able to open the cover of Sherlock's Autofocus and Context Imager (ACI) camera, providing a clear view of the instrument on the rover.

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Sherlock principal investigator Kevin Hand of JPL shared his thoughts on the issue and said, “After six months of diagnostics, testing, imagery and data analysis, troubleshooting, and retesting, there could not have been a better conclusion.”

On June 17, the operational status of the instrument and rover was confirmed; the team figured out a way to use Perseverance's robotic arm to achieve precise focus on targets.

Kyle Ukert, SHERLOCK's deputy principal investigator at JPL, praised the precision of the rover's robotic arm, which is capable of moving in tiny, quarter-millimeter intervals. This allows SHERLOCK to be positioned about 40 millimeters (about 1.58 inches) from the target, ensuring the collection of high-quality data.

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With Sherlock back online, Perseverance will continue its mission to explore Mars and search for clues about ancient microbial life. The instrument's findings could significantly impact our understanding of the Red Planet's past and present.



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