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The Perseverance rover was first sent to Mars in 2020 in collaboration with the European Space Agency, ESA, as a tool to help understand the planet's geology, past climate, and to investigate possible traces of microbial life.
A first attempt to drill out a core sample of the rock was carried out in early August. Even though the attempt first seemed successful, no rock was found in the tube meant to keep the stone in place while the rover photographed it.
A second attempt was made on September 1st and now Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in California, USA, have confirmed they have received photographs of the first-ever rock sample - a rock with a size slightly larger than a pencil.
"The project got its first cored rock under its belt, and that’s a phenomenal accomplishment", says Jennifer Trosper, project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Now the images will be investigated at the laboratory, to see what conclusions can be drawn from them. In due time, rock samples that seem interesting enough may be brought back to Earth to undergo further studies.
Meanwhile, Perseverance will continue to investigate Mars' surface in search of other interesting specimens. Eventually, the rover will head over to the Jezero Crater Delta region, a place where there are signs of clay minerals having traveled to during the period scientists believe there was water on Mars. When in place, the rover will look for signs of microbial life thought to have been fossilized by the clay.
🚀 Do not miss Dr. Tanya Harrison's lecture on the Warp Space Summit – online or firsthand in Linköping, Sweden, September 19th. Dr. Harrison was involved in developing Perseverance and is also involved in other Mars-related projects.