Success! Rover Perseverance collects and stores your first Mars sample

In August, NASA’s Perseverance rover made its first attempt to collect a rock sample from Mars, but it was unsuccessful. Now came relief for the mission scientists: this Wednesday (1st), the rover tried again to obtain the samples and, this time, took pictures of the material in the tube, which were sent to the team on Earth. The images show that everything went right and now Perseverance will seal the tube with the material and put it away.

The first attempt was made on August 6th. That day, Perseverance drilled, collected, and sealed a rock sample, and everything seemed to go well—except that the team found that the tube that was supposed to contain the material was empty. “It was a little nerve-racking,” said Kenneth A. Farley, a Perseverance project scientist. They later found out that this was because the rock had too fragile a structure, which ended up breaking up into pieces too small for the rover to collect.

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Fortunately, all was not lost, as the tube contains a very good sample of the uncontaminated Martian atmosphere. Now, for this new attempt, the rover headed towards a region a little higher than the surrounding landscape. So, the team chose the rock that appeared to be the most rigid in the place: they decided to go with the rock dubbed “Rochette”, which proved to have withstood the passage of time and the action of the wind, suggesting that it was firm enough. for the procedure. In addition, it appears to be a hardened piece of lava, which will allow you to accurately age it and its layers.

The first sample obtained by Perseverance; scientists expected it to be a little thicker than a pencil (Image: Reproduction/NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Farley commented that the rock is a very valuable target, but it will be a while before scientists can study this and the next samples that will be obtained. One of the objectives of the rover’s mission is to collect samples of rocks and soil that, in the future, will be collected to be sent to Earth; however, this recovery of the material should only take place in the next decade. Until that moment arrives, Perseverance will continue exploring the Jezero crater in the company of the small Ingenuity helicopter.

Source: NY Times

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