The Mars 2020 is in its final year of engineering before it will be deployed to the red planet in July next year. With its power source, wheels, and robotic arm ready to go, the next phase of construction was to install the bit carousel. The bit carousel is an important mechanism for the gathering and sorting of samples from the Martian surface. It looks “somewhat like an extraterrestrial version of a 1960s slide projector,” according to NASA, and it houses nine drill bits for digging into the surface rocks on Mars and collecting samples to send home to Earth. Nine drill bits are required as two are used for abrading (scraping away at the rock), one for regolith (the name for the loose soil and small rocks on the surface), and six for extracting core samples from rocks. Once the abrader bit has been used to scrape the top layer of rock away, the regolith and core bits are used to collect a sample and place it into a clean test tube. “The bit carousel is at the heart of the sampling and caching subsystem,” Keith Rosette, Mars 2020 sample handling delivery manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained in a statement. “It contains all of the tools the coring drill uses to ...