NASA’s Perseverance rover has for the first time ever succeeded in taking a sample of Mars.
Perseverance equipped with 43 collection pipes
The rover drilled into a rock called Rochette near the Jezero crater, cutting out a core that it placed in a titanium tube. The perseverance team will spend some time taking pictures and verifying the sample. Adam Steltzner, head of the mission, confirmed in a tweet that the test has been taken.
It is a lucky turn from the beginning of August when Perseverance made its first attempt to take a sample, but the researchers then found nothing in the collection tube. The drilling mechanism had ground the fragile rock to powder and it had trickled down to the ground. Rochette was chosen in part because the mountain there was considered harder.
Former river delta
Collecting samples is one of the mission’s most important goals. Perseverance is equipped with 43 collection tubes and NASA hopes to fill them all with rock and soil samples from Mars for one day to bring them to Earth.
The 45-kilometer-long Jezero crater is believed to be a former river delta. If Mars has ever been habitable in the wet era billions of years ago, this is one of the best places for fossils to have found a home. Although Perseverance is armed with instruments that will tell us a lot about what is on Jezero, the best place to look for biosignatures and traces of micro-life is a laboratory on earth.
Pick-up rover for Mars no earlier than 2029
Bringing the samples from Mars to Earth is planned as a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency. The goal is to send a pick-up rover to Mars no earlier than 2029, which in that case will mean that the samples will come here in 2031.
Meanwhile, this is just the first of many collections of samples for Perseverance. The rover will continue its journey around the Jezero.
Ingenuity has made 12 flights
The small helicopter Ingenuity has now made 12 flights on Mars. Ingenuity was originally a technological demonstration, but has proven to be so robust that NASA made it a platform for the investigations of Mars and part of the mission.