Rover Perseverance collects its first rock sample on Mars

Earth's cratered surface, captured by Sherlock Watson's camera on August 2.

the wanderer perseverance He has now collected a rock sample on Mars, the first of about 35 samples that will be dedicated to a future mission to collect it and return it to Earth. NASA announced the successful group and tweet Posted on the morning of Friday, August 6th.

If the rock samples reach Earth safely (Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said they’re due in the early 2030s), they could potentially reveal a great deal of information about Mars, including details of the planet’s geology in close proximity. Scientists can only dream before.

“I’ve been thinking about this today and preparing for nearly 8 years,” said Louise Gandora, chief sampling and buffering engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Blog post. “It has been a long, intense, challenging and exhilarating road that has resulted in sophisticated robotic devices that exemplify perseverance,” he added.

The rock samples came from the edge of Jezero crater on Mars, where a dry river delta emerged from the ancient lake bed. It’s where perseverance landed big in February with Helicopter ingenuity In tow, and where both complex vehicles have been roaming ever since.

An artist's translation from the 1990s of what a return to Mars specimen might look like.

NASA outlined the steps required to extract the sample at a press conference late last month. First, the team on the ground chose the sample site, Cratered Floor Fractured Rough, a steep stretch of rock less than 1.5 kilometers from the landing site. Next, I ordered the rover to scrape the surface of the rock (mainly scrape the dirt), break through the stone, extract the pulp, and store it.

At the time of the conference, NASA scientists were not sure whether the ore consisted of igneous or sedimentary rocks, which required different geological processes to form: in the first case: the rock cools, once the liquid is dumped by volcanoes; The second case is formed by continuous stratification of sediments that eventually accumulate and form rocks. nature She reported that the rocks appear to be fiery, based on scientists’ first observations of images of the rocks taken by the rover’s WATSON camera. The sample is now secured in one of the persistence test tubes.

The rover will be busy collecting more samples as it continues its mission. It will be your next trip Sittah, a rolling ridge of sand dunes over which an Ingenuity helicopter recently flew, and Raised Ridges, another nearby formation. Next year, the rover will head to Three Forks, the river delta at the crater’s edge, where scientists hope fossilized signs of life may be hiding.

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