NASA’s Perseverance Rover Sampled Its First Rock!

Source: Nasa
Source: Nasa

The team behind NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has recently announced that it managed to successfully acquire its first Martian rock.

The announcement was accompanied by a September 1 image of the long, uneven, dusty Martian rock within its sample tube.

According to NASA, the initial images depict an intact sample successfully placed in its tube after being drilled.

Here’s the announcement:

However, the scientists noted that the extra images taken after the arm acquired the sample were inconclusive because of “poor sunlight conditions.”

The team also stated that the rover would take extra images of the sample tube under more favorable lighting conditions before future processing is carried out.

The NASA statement says that, though the team behind the project is fairly confident that the sample is in the tube, some images in improved lighting conditions will prove that it is indeed there.

Jennifer Trosper, the project manager of NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), stated:

“The project got its first cored rock under its belt, and that’s a phenomenal accomplishment. The team determined a location, and selected and cored a viable and scientifically valuable rock. We did what we came to do. We will work through this small hiccup with the lighting conditions in the images and remain encouraged that there is sample in this tube.”

To extract the sample, the rover used a rotary percussive drill combined with a hollow coring bit, which includes the sample tube. The structure is located at the end of the rover’s robotic arm to simplify the sampling process.

After a quick automated checkup, “Percy,” as the rover is often called, vibrates the drill bit and tube five times to slide the sample down farther into its place.

After that process finished, Percy took a new set of Mastcam-Z images (under unfavorable conditions), in which “the internal portions of the sample tube are not visible.”

Here is the second set of images:

The team then decided to issue the rover to take a new set of pictures just to be sure that everything is going fine, especially as the rover had difficulty extracting a sample in the past (or at least placing it in its tube).

The new set of images will reach Earth soon. Stay tuned to see them as soon as they are made public!

Susan Kowal
Susan Kowal is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor/advisor, and health enthusiast.