MarcoPolo-R&’s NASA-contributed sampling system will use the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism (TAGSAM), which is the gas-driven sampling device with heritage from the OSIRIS-REx mission. This instrument will be modified with three rock chippers to meet MarcoPolo-R sampling requirements.
Upon contact with the surface of the asteroid, the rock chippers will fire, and high-pressure nitrogen gas will flow. The rock chippers will then dislodge and break up consolidated-surface, large-regolith particles for collection. The nitrogen gas will fluidize the dislodged and surface regolith and carry it into the collection tray on the TAGSAM head.
Simulation and testing have confirmed that 3-centimeter particles can be collected, and the mission is designed to accommodate up to three sample acquisition attempts.
Image credit: NASA Goddard/Lockheed Martin/University of Arizona