NASA has equipped its Mars rover, Perseverance, with two tools named after a group of people in the hit novel. The two tools, known as Sherlock and Watson, are part of a system that will allow NASA to investigate Martian rocks as small as a grain of sand. Sherlock is located on the rover’s robotic arm; it includes a laser and spectrometer that works with the Watson camera.
NASA plans to launch the Perseverance rover later this year and is expected to reach Mars in February 2021. The machine will carry instruments that will enable it to study all aspects of the Martian environment, including finding evidence of past microbial life on the Red Planet. NASA said Tuesday that two of the tools are Sherlock and Watson.
“Sherlock” is located at the end of the “Persistence” robotic arm; “Watson” is a camera that works with Sherlock to capture images of rock textures. The combination of the two instruments will enable the detection of organic molecules and mineral selection on Martian rocks to help discover the components of life.
These tools are part of a larger system on The Perseverance that will allow drilling samples of the most interesting rocks found, placing drilled samples in metal tubes and then dropping them to specific locations on Mars. NASA expects future missions to Mars to include spacecraft capable of taking these samples out and returning them to Earth.
NASA says six other instruments will be added to “Sherlock,” including SuperCam. The rover itself weighs about 2,260 pounds and is expected to launch at some point between July 17 and August 11. NASA says it will reach its destination, the Jezero Crater crater on Mars, on February 18, 2021, regardless of the day it launches — as long as it is within that time frame.