NASA's newest Mars rover snags 1st rock sample for return
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s newest Mars rover has successfully collected its first rock sample for return to Earth, after last month’s attempt came up empty.
The Perseverance rover’s chief engineer, Adam Steltzner, called it a perfect core sample.
“I’ve never been happier to see a hole in a rock,” he tweeted Thursday.
A month ago, Perseverance drilled into the much softer rock, and the sample crumbled and didn’t get inside the titanium tube. The rover drove a half-mile to a better sampling spot to try again. Team members analyzed data and pictures before declaring success.
Perseverance arrived in February at Mars’ Jezero Crater — believed to be the home of a lush lakebed and river delta billions of years ago — in search of rocks that might hold evidence of ancient life. NASA plans to launch more spacecraft to retrieve the samples collected by Perseverance; engineers are hoping to return as many as three dozen samples in about a decade.
“Be patient, little sample, your journey is about to begin,” Steltzner said.
Perseverance successfully drilled and collected its first sample of Mars, from a rock nicknamed "Rochette", on 1 September 2021. Perseverance will now seal the tube no. 266 and store the sample. The first sample attempt failed on 6 August 2021 because, according to NASA, the rock was "too crumbly".
Great success for the robotic mission and technology proof on Mars. Also it is important as a composite mission, including depositing and handling samples on Mars as it is planned for the surface geological investigation. Looking forward to scientific discoveries. Precious data for austranaughts for future Mars missions and geological planet's history investigation.