NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars has confirmed the profitable assortment of its first rock pattern.
“One down, much more to go!” Kenneth A. Farley, professor of geochemistry on the California Institute of Expertise and the mission’s challenge scientist, stated in an e mail.
On Monday evening, NASA introduced that the rover had sealed the tube that comprises the rock core, which is barely thicker than a pencil, and put it away for safekeeping in its stomach. That and different collected samples will probably be dropped to the bottom to be collected by one other spacecraft. They’ll eventually be ferried back to Earth, serving to scientists research the mysteries of the pink planet in a lot the identical means that lunar samples from the Apollo and Soviet missions helped advance understanding of the moon.
For many years, planetary geologists have wished to review rocks from one other planet. They’ve carried out that with pieces of Mars that were blasted into space by meteor impacts and later handed Earth’s path and landed as meteorites. However with Martian meteorites, scientists had no concept the place the rocks originated — intriguing items from a jigsaw puzzle however no alternative to search out the opposite items.
With the Perseverance samples, scientists will know precisely which rocks the samples got here from, and the rover can have carried out detailed research of the encompassing geology.
The rover drilled the core from a flat, briefcase-size Mars rock nicknamed Rochette final week. Within the first photos that the rover took of the gathering tube, the rock pattern could possibly be simply seen.
However viewers on Earth were concerned when the rock couldn’t be seen in subsequent images. These had been taken after Perseverance used its robotic arm to shake the tube to assist the pattern settle to the underside of the container. Mission managers had been assured it was simply hidden in shadow, however after a failed drilling try final month, they wished to verify earlier than sealing the tube.
Subsequent images with higher lighting confirmed the rock was nonetheless there.
Rochette appears to be like to be a bit of a hardened lava, which could be exactly dated. Thus, scientists will have the ability to decide how previous this boulder is, and it helps pin down the ages of decrease, older layers.
Within the first drilling try in August, every thing on Perseverance appeared to operate flawlessly but the tube ended up empty. Analyzing what occurred, scientists and engineers engaged on the mission concluded that the primary rock was simply too fragile and the pattern fell out.
One of many key duties for Perseverance, which arrived on Mars in February, is to gather rocks and soil that may finally be brought back to Earth by another mission in order that scientists can exhaustively research them utilizing state-of-the-art devices of their laboratories. Scientists hope to gather greater than 30 samples from quite a lot of areas in Jezero crater, a landing site that was chosen as a result of scientists on Earth felt an historic river delta alongside the crater rim was a promising goal for fossilized microbial life if it ever existed.
Perseverance is gathering the rock and soil samples however has no solution to ship them again to Earth. That may await the longer term mission, which continues to be being designed.
On Saturday, Ingenuity, the robotic helicopter accompanying Perseverance, made its thirteenth flight, scouting a sequence of outcrops to supply assist in planning upcoming drives by the rover.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/07/science/nasa-mars-rock-sample.html | NASA’s Perseverance Rover Stashes First Mars Rock Pattern