Perseverance rover successfully collects first Martian sample – WSVN 7News | Miami News, Weather, Sports
(CNN) – While we were enjoying the weekend, the Perseverance rover worked hard to make history on Mars.
New images with better lighting show that the rover actually successfully collected a rock sample from Mars last week. Now the rover processes and seals the sample tube. It is the first rock core sample from Mars to be stowed on the rover.
It is one of more than 30 Martian samples brought back to Earth from future missions in the early 2030s – and they could reveal whether there was ever any microbial life on Mars.
The Perseverance rover was drilling into a Martian rock on September 2, but the rover team on Earth wanted better images to make sure the sample was safely in the tube. Initial images and data returned from the rover indicated an intact sample was in the tube after Perseverance drilled into a rock selected by the mission’s science team.
After these images were taken, the rover vibrated the drill and pipe for five one-second bursts to clear both of any residual material from the outside of the pipe. It is possible that this has caused the sample to slide further down the inside of the tube, which makes it difficult to see.
The next pictures that were taken afterwards were “inconclusive due to poor sunlight”, according to the agency. Perseverance spent the next two days capturing more images with their cameras in better lighting conditions before proceeding to the next steps in the sampling process.
The extra step of taking additional pictures before sealing and stowing the sample tube was added after Perseverance attempted to drill into another rock target on August 5th. During this experiment the rock crumbled and there was no sample in the tube after it was stowed.
“The project has its first core rock under its belt, and that is a phenomenal achievement,” said Jennifer Trosper, project manager for the mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a statement. “The team has determined a location and selected and gutted a usable and scientifically valuable rock. We did what we came to do. “
The rover uses a rotating percussion drill and a hollow core bit to drill into rocks and collect samples that are just a bit thicker than a pencil. This sampling system is located at the end of the rover’s 2 meter long robotic arm.
Perseverance is currently exploring the Citadelle site in the Jezero crater, which billions of years ago was once the site of an ancient lake. The rover’s specific destination was a rock called Rochette, about the size of a briefcase and part of a 800-meter ridge of ledges and boulders.
Flight over Mars
The Ingenuity helicopter was also busy, acting as an aerial scout for the rover’s future adventures. The small helicopter successfully completed its 13th flight on Mars at the weekend.
It flew over the South Seitah region at a slightly slower speed of 7.3 miles per hour (3.3 meters per second) and took a variety of photos.
The 12th flight of the helicopter also affected this region, which could be of great interest to the rover’s science team. On the 13th flight, Ingenuity flew in a different direction over South Seitah to get a different perspective.
During the 12th flight, the scientists were fascinated by a particular ridge line and its rocky outcrops. So Ingenuity was flying at a lower than usual altitude, gliding 26 feet (8 meters) over the area instead of 33 feet (10 meters).
Now the science team has pictures showing this geologically fascinating area from both the northeast and the southwest. Together, the images could help the Perseverance team determine where the rover should go next – and where more samples can be collected.
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