02 September 2021

Nasa’s newest Mars rover snags first rock sample for return

02 September 2021

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 Stelzner, called it a perfect core sample.

“I’ve never been more happy to see a hole in a rock,” he tweeted on Thursday.

(PA Graphics) (PA Graphics)

A month ago, Perseverance drilled into much softer rock, and the sample crumbled and did not get inside the titanium tube.

The rover drove half a mile to a better sampling spot to try again. Team members analysed data and pictures before declaring a 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.

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