NASA’s Perseverance rover finally snatched its first Mars rock sample

NASA’s Perseverance rover finally snatched its first Mars rock sample


One of the clearest pictures available of the rock core captured by Perseverance, as photographed by the rover’s Mastcam-Z camera | NASA/JPL

NASA’s Perseverance rover captured its first sampling of rocky Mars material last week after its first attempt in August mysteriously turned up empty. The new rock sample, about the size of a small cigar, checks off a crucial first step in a broader decade-long effort to bring humanity’s first Martian samples back to Earth in pristine condition.

The rover’s successful sample grab happened last Wednesday at 5:36PM ET, digging into a rock scientists nicknamed “Rochette.” Using a hollow, tube-like drill bit that traps rocky material inside, Perseverance drilled a hole a few inches deep using a rotary-percussive drill installed at the end of its seven-foot sampling arm. A twisting mechanism inside the drill bit snapped the rock core off of…

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