Image from Sept. 1, 2021, that shows a sample tube filled with rocks. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA’s Mars Rover Extracts First Rock Samples In Second Attempt

Perseverance's first attempt in August was an unexpected failure.

The Perseverance rover received a sample of Martian soil on its second try, as indicated by images taken by the rover, which show that the inside of the test tube is filled with rock. It is expected that new data sent by the rover in the near future will provide the final confirmation of the success of the operation.

One of the scientific tasks of the new Perseverance rover, which has been operating on the planet for several months, is to collect at least 20 different soil samples from the Jezero crater into sealed test tubes – there are 43 of them onboard the rover.

One end of the tube is initially open and is filled with rocks during the operation of the drilling mechanism, which is installed on the end of the rover’s two-meter robotic arm. In the future, they are sealed and will be stored in several places on Mars until the arrival of the MSR (Mars Sample Return Mission) mission, during which they will be delivered to Earth.

Previously, NASA reported that the soil on Mars is planned to be carried out where, according to scientists, there was once a lake. Experts want to test one of the hypotheses, according to which the lake that once filled the Jezero crater did not exist once, but dried up and formed again. The main goal is to search for traces of life on Mars.

A boulder with a hole drilled by the Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA
A boulder with a hole drilled by the Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA

The first attempt to obtain samples took place on August 6, 2021, but then it turned out that the test tube was empty – this was associated with an overly fragile rock that turned into powder. Researchers looked for harder rocks and soon found possible sedimentary outcrops and boulders belonging to a ridge over 900 meters long.

On September 1, the rover conducted a second soil sampling attempt and then photographed the well in the boulder and the interior of the test tube after drilling. After examining the images, the scientists came to the conclusion that the core filled the tube without spilling out of it.

The new images, which will arrive on Earth on September 4, are expected, as well as data from the analysis of the sampling and caching system located inside the rover, will provide final confirmation of the success of the operation.

What’s going on with the Chinese rover on Mars?

Chinese researchers working on the mission of the rover “Zhurong” have published a new panoramic photo. It shows that the self-propelled vehicle has reached a vast dune.

To date, Zhurong has traveled a total of about 1,064 meters, with the rover’s route heading south of the landing platform. Scientists want to work with the mission for as long as possible, as a forced two-month break in research begins in mid-September due to the fact that the Red Planet will stand behind the Sun.

The new panoramic image from "Zhurong". Credit: CNSA/PEC
The new panoramic image from “Zhurong”. Credit: CNSA/PEC

According to Chinese researchers, Zhurong collected about 10 gigabytes of data from various devices between May (when the landing took place) and today. If the rover’s work is resumed successfully in November, it will continue to move south through the Utopia Plain, reaching a parched ancient coast.

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Chang, K. (2021, September 2). On Mars, nasa’s Perseverance ROVER drilled the rocks it came for. The New York Times.
NASA. (n.d.). NASA’s perseverance rover Successfully CORES its first rock.
Wall, M. (2021, September 1). Mars rover perseverance set for 2nd sample-collection Attempt (photo).
Wall, M. (2021, September 3). NASA’s perseverance ROVER DRILLS 1st Mars ROCK sample for an (eventual) return to Earth.

Written by Vladislav Tchakarov

Hello, my name is Vladislav and I am glad to have you here on Curiosmos. As a history student, I have a strong passion for history and science, and the opportunity to research and write in this field on a daily basis is a dream come true.

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