NASA's Perseverance Drills on Mars: Second try's a charm
Rock

NASA’s Perseverance Drills on Mars: Second try’s a charm Rock

The rover was able to core a sample after a failed attempt.

As the Perseverance rover drilled into a rock on Wednesday to collect a sample from Jezero Crater on Mars, Justin Simon, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, felt both nervous and excited. Simon has been chosen to be the sample shepherd, leading this effort thousands of miles from home. But the pressure is on. He said that the samples would not only help us understand the geology and minerals of the crater but could also be used to determine the past of water in the area.

First, however, the rover needed to capture some rock using a container of test tubes. An initial attempt in early August had come up empty. The first rock was called “Roubion” and it simply fell to pieces as the drill bore into it. None of the bits made it in the container.

Simon now can exhale a sigh relief. Perseverance’s second attempt with a different rock appears to have succeeded in extracting a Martian core that is slightly thicker than a pencil.

We got the image of a stunning-looking core and a remarkable-looking cylinder that was broken apart cleanly. “It looks very geologically interesting. This is something scientists of tomorrow will love working on,” Ken Farley (Caltech geochemist, project scientist for the Perseverance mission), which is being led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena.

The analysis of this new sample will take some time because NASA scientists are unable to capture clear photos due to poor lighting. This makes it difficult to understand the images. Perseverance performed a “percuss to insinuate” procedure, shaking the sample to ensure it wasn’t overfilled. This would cause the system to jam when stored. One image showed an empty tube. They are pretty certain they have the sample. However, they will try to take more photos in brighter light the next few days.

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