NASA: After failing last month in what would be its main task, the Perseverance rover successfully completed, on Wednesday (1), the first drilling and rock collection on Martian soil, where the planetary vehicle has been carrying out its mission since the day. February 18th. In the last attempt to collect rocks, on August 6th, the samples simply disappeared.
This time, there was no mistaking the rock was drilled, and the rover took photos of the samples inside the tube before placing them in its “belly”, where they will be stored until a future mission to Mars can finally bring them to Earth. As this will depend on another rover and a collection rocket that will take off from the planet, the samples now collected will only arrive in the year 2030.
Nearly 200 days on Mars (to be completed next Monday), NASA’s mighty $2.4 billion robot jeep weighs a ton and is nuclear-powered. Perseverance’s mission is ambitious: to search for ancestral life forms on the red planet. He is the first of five jeeps to seek out alleged Martians who died at a time when that world was even more hostile than it is today.
Why did Perseverance fail on the first attempt at taking Martian samples?
Professor Kenneth Farley, scientist for the Perseverance project, released an email on Thursday morning, expressing his relief at the success in obtaining the rock samples, whose images were posted by NASA. The new geological formation, called the rochette, is harder than the samples collected previously, as it shows no signs of erosion by the Martian winds.
Farley’s reaction contrasts with the desperation shown in Perseverance’s last attempt when the collections disappeared. After fearing a technical flaw that would make the mission unfeasible, the explanation finally came through mission project manager Jennifer Trosper. “The rock was very fragile” and was pulverized, she wrote on the NASA blog.