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I have been seeing videos that the plan after Perseverance is done collecting samples to distribute them in 'strategic' locations around Mars for another rover to drive around and pick up later. Why isn't the plan to leave them inside the rover or place in a special container for the other rover to pickup?

I don't feel comfortable being skeptical of a well thought out NASA mission, but Mars is a giant desert with huge dust storms. I have a hard time believing that the next rover won't have a hard time trying to get to samples buried in dust. Maybe some can be retrieved, but all?


Several animations of "disappearing" artificially-induced features on Mars' surface over a period of years can found at https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/images/changes-in-scars-from-2012-mars-landing

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  • $\begingroup$ A really good question! Mars dust-covered selfies here and here and here $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 19 at 2:47
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    $\begingroup$ If the samples are on the Martian surface in their sample containers, there might be a dozen centimeters of dust on them at the time of recovery. If they're on Perseverance, there might be a ton of unresponsive, broken rover on top of them. $\endgroup$ – notovny Feb 19 at 14:58
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    $\begingroup$ Does this answer your question? Why should the Mars 2020 rover drop drilled cores along its route to be picked up later? $\endgroup$ – user1937198 Feb 19 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I can see the difference now, but it was only a flag, not a vote (insufficient rep), so I can't retract it. Still, given the phrasing about leaving them in the rover, I think its worth keeping the link, as the question I pointed at does specifically address the reasons for the cache strategy over alternative options, including a container. Even if it doesn't answer how they plan to deal with the issues of the selected option. $\endgroup$ – user1937198 Feb 20 at 0:59
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I did isolate this point because it was evident that it was an (proposed) edit from you and because the conjunction "or" indicates that "blowing away" and "getting covered" can indeed be isolated ! But I'm not against the question, I voted for it ! $\endgroup$ – Cornelis in space Feb 20 at 10:27

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