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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Mars. The Perseverance rover took the first samples

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The Perseverance rover managed to drill into one of the Martian rocks and took a sample that will eventually be tested in a laboratory on Earth, NASA reported. These will be the first fragments of the Red Planet available to scientists, aside from Martian meteorites.

Data that the US space agency NASA obtained on September 1, 2021 from the Perseverance rover – and photos received on September 4, indicate that drilling in the Martian stone was successful. Photographs are shown in which the drilled hole is clearly visible, as well as photographs of the container in which the collected sample is located.

The rock selected for research was named “Rochette”. It is situated on a ridge above the bottom of the Jezero Crater. According to hypotheses, this crater used to be a lake with a depth of up to 250 meters.

Drilled hole through the Perseverance rover in Martian rock. Photo taken by one of the cameras on September 1stNASA / JPL-Caltech

Perseverance rover

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This was the second drilling attempt made by Perseverance. The first one took place on August 8, 2021 and was unsuccessful. At that time, the collected material was too loose and spilled out of the container in which it was later to be taken to Earth.

For drilling, the rover uses a suitable drill located at the end of a two-meter robotic arm. The resulting samples are slightly thicker than a pencil. After the material is taken, a photo is taken, then a drill, and the container is vibrated for one second, repeated five times. The aim is to clean the rim of the container from material debris. After this stage, the container is photographed again.

The mission plans include further drillings. The rover is expected to collect around 40 samples a year with a total weight of about one kilogram, for which a new probe (with a new rover) will then fly to take them from the surface of Mars and deliver them to Earth.

Photo of the rock core sample taken on September 1NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS

Mars 2020 mission

The Perseverance rover mission is called Mars 2020. The rover was launched from Earth on July 30, 2020 and landed on February 18, 2021. A video of the landing maneuver from cameras on the landing platform and rover is available. Other experiments conducted as part of the mission include drone flights, tests of oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere, geological and meteorological studies, and the search for potential signs of past biological life on the Red Planet.

Main photo source: NASA / JPL-Caltech

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