The 2013-2022 Decadal Survey recommended a medium-class Comet Surface Sample Return (CSSR) mission. One of the science objectives of this mission is to ”Acquire and return to Earth for laboratory analysis a macroscopic (≥500 cm3) comet nucleus surface sample”. JPL has been developing the BiBlade sampler chain and fiberscope-based sample verification system for the CSSR mission. The fiberscope sample imaging (FiSI) system is based on nine bundled imaging fiberscopes observing an acquired comet sample soon after the comet sample acquisition. If the sample quantity is not sufficient, the sample acquisition will be re-attempted – multiple times if necessary – until baseline sample quantity is confirmed. This will maximize potential science outcome of the mission.
The 2013-2022 Decadal Survey recommended a medium-class Comet Surface Sample Return (CSSR) mission. One of the science objectives of this mission is to “Acquire and return to Earth for laboratory analysis a macroscopic (≥500 cm3) comet nucleus surface sample.” Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have been developing a comet surface sample verification system to achieve this objective. Researchers attempted a bench-top neutral buoyancy e1periment to test the CSSR system in simulated microgravity. Test results were positive for certain type of samples, but testing of bulk cohesive samples similar to what would be expected from a comet surface was still needed. Parabolic flight testing in 2017 enabled testing of various types and quantities of comet surface sample simulant. The obtained fiberscope images were analyzed with sample measurement algorithms in order to estimate the sample quantity.