The persistent rover finally managed to extract samples from a rock on the surface of Mars
08/04/2021 Persevere with ingenuity before the first powered journey into another world. NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars used a camera at the end of its robotic arm to take this picture of itself with an Ingenuity helicopter nearby. Research and Technology Policy NASA / JPL-CALTECH / MSSS

In early August, NASA published news that, for experts, became the first major disappointment for the Perseverance rover on Mars. “Data sent back to Earth by NASA’s Perseverance rover after its first attempt to collect a rock sample from Mars and seal it in a sample tube.” Indicates that no rocks were collected during the initial sampling activityThe US space agency said in a document published on August 6 on its official website.

According to NASA itself, although Perseverance had already collected a total of 43 samples of titanium tubes by that date, this mission simply cannot be classified as successful, given that one of the main goals of the rover is to collect hard rock, As well as a mixture of broken rocks and dust known as regolith.

08-12-2021 The drill hole from the first persistence attempt to collect samples, along with the rover's shadow, can be seen in the image on the left taken by one of the rover's navigation cameras.  Research and Technology Policy NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS.
08-12-2021 The drill hole from the first persistence attempt to collect samples, along with the rover’s shadow, can be seen in the image on the left taken by one of the rover’s navigation cameras. Research and Technology Policy NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS.

Now, what for researchers outside of NASA might be called a failure in the way of perseverance, for scientists working for the North American agency, it was just a setback to overcome.

While this is not the ‘hole-in-one’ we were hoping for, There is always the danger of opening new horizonssaid Thomas Zurbuchen, co-director of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

“I’m sure we have the right team working on this, and we will persevere toward a solution to ensure future success.”

It seems that they succeeded…

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In recent days, NASA has confirmed that after weeks of work, on September 1, the first signs of success were found through perseverance, which would, finally, A rock sample was collected on Mars soil.

“Raw images downloaded after the historical event show an intact sample contained in the tube after extraction,” the entity adds through a statement.

Now, scientists still prefer to talk about an assumption, considering that the conditions in which the samples were taken are not the best, So it can’t be analyzed the way NASA would prefer.

“However, additional images taken after arm sample acquisition was completed were inconclusive due to poor sunlight conditions. Another round of better-lighted images will be taken before sample processing continues.”

This image appears on September 1st from the rover
This September 1 image from NASA’s “Perseverance” rover shows a sample of the tube containing its core rock contents inside. The bronze colored outer ring is the bit. The lighter-colored inner ring is the open end of the tube, and the inside is a sample of rock core slightly thicker than a pencil. In a later photo, the rock sample was not visible inside the tube. Photo: NASA

However, the researchers’ confidence in the work done by their rover appears to be intact, though Images in optimal lighting conditions are awaiting confirmation of the presence of the sampleThey assert that this is only done as a routine procedure.

“The project got its first base rock under its belt, which is a massive achievement. (..) The team located, selected and sampled a rock of scientific value and viable. We did what we came for. We will work through this little issue with the lighting conditions in the photos and will continue to encourage us to have a sample in this tubesaid Jennifer Trosper, project manager for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

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It must be remembered that what is expected of this rock group is to have enough material to analyze and thus try to obtain evidence of life on Mars. Whether it’s small samples of clay or methane, what scientists at NASA hope is to try to solve humanity’s long-held question: Are we alone in the universe?

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