NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover has succeeded in its second attempt to collect the first Martian rock drill sample for an eventual return to the earth. The agency has released the pictures of the gathered sample. The picture was taken by the Mastcam-Z camera on September 1, 2021 which is on the mission’s 190th sol, or Martian day.
The recent confirmation comes after NASA’s failed in it first attempt on 5th August which they referred to as “Roubion”. This was one of the flat polygonal-shape rock they have observed all along the rover’s traverse so far. But the rock it drilled that day turned out to be surprisingly soft, crumbling into bits that didn’t make it into the designated tube.
The rover arrived on Mars on February 18 with the Ingenuity Mars helicopter in the bowels. The small helicopter has its own program. It is not equipped with scientific instruments, and its only task is to test the possibility of using similar flying devices in the future when examining the surface of extraterrestrial bodies.
NASA chief and former astronaut Bill Nelson hailed it as “a momentous achievement.”
The space agency plans to collect as many as 43 mineral samples over the next few months from the floor of Jerezo Crater, a wide basin where scientists think water flowed and microbial life may have flourished billions of years ago.
The six-wheeled, SUV-sized vehicle is also expected to explore walls of sediment deposited at the foot of a remnant river delta once etched into a corner of the crater and considered a prime spot for study.
Mineral collection is the heart of the $2.7 billion Perseverance project.
Two future missions to Mars, to be jointly conducted by NASA and the European Space Agency, are planned to retrieve those specimens in the next decade and return them to Earth, where astrobiologists will examine them for signs of tiny fossilized organisms.
Such fossils would represent the first conclusive proof that life has ever existed beyond Earth.
Perseverance, the fifth and by far most sophisticated rover NASA has sent to Mars since its first, Sojourner, arrived in 1997, landed in Jerezo Crater in February after a 293 million-mile flight from Earth.
Success of the first sample collection, taken from a flat, briefcase-sized rock using the rotary-percussive drill at the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm, was verified through imagery taken by the rover’s cameras as the sample was measured, cataloged and stored, NASA said.
The rover’s sampling and caching system, consisting of more than 3,000 parts, was described by JPL’s interim director, Larry James, as “the most complex mechanism ever sent into space.”