The Perseverance rover has completed another of its important tasks, collecting Martian rock. It’s packed the sample away in an airtight titanium tube, awaiting future missions to retrieve.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington observed, “For all of NASA science, this is truly a historic moment. Just as the Apollo Moon missions demonstrated the enduring scientific value of returning samples from other worlds for analysis here on our planet, we will be doing the same with the samples Perseverance collects as part of our Mars Sample Return program. Using the most sophisticated science instruments on Earth, we expect jaw-dropping discoveries across a broad set of science areas, including exploration into the question of whether life once existed on Mars.”
The machine used a rotary-percussive drill at the end of its arm to collect the rock. The delta area in which it is now operating is known to have plenty of clay deposits which on earth can preserve fossilised signs of ancient microscopic life which are sometimes associated with biological processes.
Perseverance Project Scientist Ken Farley of Caltech added, “Getting the first sample under our belt is a huge milestone. When we get these samples back on Earth, they are going to tell us a great deal about some of the earliest chapters in the evolution of Mars. But however geologically intriguing the contents of sample tube 266 will be, they won’t tell the complete story of this place. There is a lot of Jezero Crater left to explore, and we will continue our journey in the months and years ahead.”
There will be a virtual briefing here with further details on Friday 10th September at noon EDT.