Mars scout Perseverance has his first piece of rock on Mars. The cart has placed the sample that is being investigated later on Earth in a container tube. Among other things, the US space agency wants to find out whether the material contains evidence that microbes have lived on the red planet.
“I got it,” tweeted the NASA account of the cart with a photo. Perseverance had been drilled in a small rock for three days, but the technicians at the control center near Los Angeles could not initially see if the sample had ended up in the right place. New photos with better lighting show that the drilling mission was successful.
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A previous attempt in August failed. Then the drill action only yielded some rock powder, but now there is a sample with roughly the thickness of a pencil secured.
The six-wheeled Mars Explorer landed in a crater on the planet in late February and soon took his first ride. His work area is the crater Jezero where billions of years ago, when Mars would have flowed water, a river may have flowed into a lake. For stone and soil research, the scout is equipped with more than twenty cameras and a drill. The device must collect dozens of soil samples in tubes. In 2028, a European scout must arrive on Mars to collect the stuff.