Perseverance will obtain additional imagery of the sample tube before potentially completing the process of collecting its first scientifically-selected Mars sample.
Data received late Sept. 1 from NASA’s Perseverance rover indicate the team has achieved its goal of successfully coring a Mars rock. The initial images downlinked after the historic event show an intact sample present in the tube after coring. However, additional images taken after the arm completed sample acquisition were inconclusive due to poor sunlight conditions. Another round of images with better lighting will be taken before the sample processing continues.
Obtaining additional imagery prior to proceeding with the sealing and storing of Mars rock sample is an extra step the team opted to include based on its experience with the rover’s sampling attempt on Aug. 5. Although the Perseverance mission team is confident that the sample is in the tube, images in optimal lighting conditions will confirm its presence.
Perseverance’s Sampling and Caching System uses a rotary-percussive drill and a hollow coring bit at the end of its 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm to extract samples slightly thicker than a pencil. Within the bit during coring is a sample tube. After completing yesterday’s coring, Perseverance maneuvered the corer, bit, and open end of the sample tube in order to be imaged by the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument. The target for the sample collection attempt was a briefcase-size rock belonging to a ridgeline that is more than half-a-mile (900 meters) long and contains rock outcrops and boulders.
he Sept. 1 coring is the second time that Perseverance has employed its Sampling and Caching System since landing in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.
More About Perseverance
A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA, would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.