NASA rover Perseverance collects first sample of Martian rock

The US space agency plans on collecting as many as 43 mineral samples over the next few months from the floor of the Jerezo crater on Mars. 

Created On: Sep 8, 2021 15:21 IST
First sample from Mars
First sample from Mars

The Mars science rover perseverance of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) has collected and stashed away the first of numerous mineral samples that the space agency hopes to retrieve from the surface of the red planet and study further on the Earth.

As per NASA, the feat, which was accomplished on September 1, 2021, and was publicly confirmed by the space agency on September 6, has marked the first such mineral sample which has been obtained from the surface of another planet.

Bill Nelson, NASA Chief, and the former astronaut hailed it as a momentous achievement. The mineral collection from Mars is at the heart of the $2.7 billion Perseverance project.

How rover perseverance collected samples on Mars?

The tools were attached to NASA’s science rover perseverance and were operated by the mission specialists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles. They drilled a rock core slightly thicker than a pencil from an ancient Martian lake bed. It was then hermetically sealed in a titanium specimen tube inside the rover.

The success of the first sample collection, taken from a flat, briefcase-sized rock with the use of the rotary- percussive drill at the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm, was further verified through imagery taken by the cameras of the rover as the sample was measured, stored and cataloged.

What are NASA rover’s plans on Mars?

The US space agency plans on collecting as many as 43 mineral samples over the next few months from the floor of the Jerezo crater on Mars. It is a wide basin where the scientists think that the water flowed and microbial life may have flourished billions of years ago.

The SUV-size vehicle, with six wheels, is also expected to explore the walls of the sediment deposited at the foot of a remnant river delta once etched into a corner of the crater and was considered a prime sport for study.

When the collected specimens from Mars will return to Earth?

Two future missions to the red planet, which are to be jointly conducted by NASA and the European Space Agency, have planned on retrieving these specimens in the next decade and returning them to Earth. The astrobiologists will further examine them for the signs of tiny fossilized organisms.

Such fossils from another planet will represent the first conclusive proof that life has ever existed beyond Earth.

About NASA’s Mars science rover perseverance:

Perseverance is the fifth and by far the most sophisticated rover that NASA has sent to Mars, since its first, Sojourner.

Sojourner arrived in 1997 and landed in Jerezo Crater in February after a 293-million-mile from the Earth.

The sampling and the caching system of the perseverance rover which consists of more than 3,000 parts have been described as the most complex mechanism ever sent to space.

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