One of the main objectives of Perseverance on Mars seems to have been fulfilled: collect planet samples. After a first attempt in which it failed to collect samples from the Martian surface, Perseverance has tried again and after drilling into the Martian rock it appears to have collected an intact sample. Now it is the turn of NASA engineers to investigate if everything has gone correctly.
In this second attempt, Perseverance has chosen a different rock to obtain the sample. The first images it has sent back to Earth show the rock with a hole drilled. Likewise, other images show a chunk of rock picked up by the rover’s robotic drill. Now it remains to be seen if it can be stored intact and without contamination inside the specially designed tube for samples.
If NASA confirms that the sample has been stored successfully, will be Perseverance’s first collection. This sample is from a rock on the crest of the Jezero crater where Perseverance landed. Mind you, it’s just the first of many that NASA hopes to collect with Perseverance. The idea is that they are from different points of the area to find different geological characteristics of the place.
The objective of these samples is poder to analyze what the planet was like millions of years ago. As they are not samples of the surface itself, but of a few centimeters inside, you can see how it was previously and not affected by current conditions. Hopefully, the samples can store signs of Martian life in the past or in the worst case simply the geological conditions of the place to better understand the planet.
Now on Mars, in a decade on Earth
Collect the samples though it’s just a tiny part of the whole mission that NASA has in mind. As we have seen in the past, Perseverance is only one third of a plan made up of three missions to Mars and drawn up to run for more than a decade.
Perseverance is in charge of collecting various samples in specially designed tubes. These tubes are going to stay at a certain point on Mars once Perseverance finishes its mission. After this, NASA will send a second lander to Mars whose main objective will be to collect the samples and launch them into Martian orbit. Once in orbit a third mission will take care of collect them and return with them to Earth, hopefully in the next decade.
Via | @NASAPerseverance