WONKY TIMES

NASA’s Mars Rover Snags Its First Rock Sample From The Red Planet

The second time’s a charm for NASA’S Perseverance Mars Rover.

Credit: NASA

NASA’S Perseverance Mars Rover has collected its first rock sample.

“I’ve drilled into my rock target, and my team will be looking at more data and images to confirm if we were able to get and retain an intact core,” the rover tweeted.

“NASA has a history of setting ambitious goals and then accomplishing them, reflecting our nation’s commitment to discovery and innovation,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This is a momentous achievement and I can’t wait to see the incredible discoveries produced by Perseverance and our team.”

Along with identifying and collecting samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) while searching for signs of ancient microscopic life, Perseverance’s mission includes studying the Jezero region to understand the geology and ancient habitability of the area, as well as to characterize the past climate.

“For all of NASA science, this is truly a historic moment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “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 an exploration into the question of whether life once existed on Mars.”

In early August, the rover attempted to collect a rock sample but came up empty.

“Perseverance is currently exploring two geologic units containing Jezero Crater’s deepest and most ancient layers of exposed bedrock and other intriguing geologic features,” NASA said.

Perseverance’s mission is to search for signs of “ancient microbial life.”

Matt Sterner

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