NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully collected its first rock sample on Mars. “I’ve got it!” the space agency tweeted early Tuesday, accompanied with a snapshot of a rock core little thicker than a pencil inside a sample tube.
Nasa stated last week that it thought it had completed the trick, but that the poorly-lit photos taken by the rover meant that the mission team couldn’t be sure whether the sample had remained within its tube. It had to retake the photos in better illumination, but transmitting the data back can take several days.
“With better lighting down the sample tube, you can see the rock core I collected is still in there,” said Nasa in the new tweet. NASA also added that the next step would be to seal and store this tube.
The objective was a briefcase-sized rock named “Rochette” from a half-mile (900m) long ridgeline. To retrieve samples, Perseverance utilises a drill and a hollow coring bit at the end of its 7′ (2m) robotic arm. Its initial effort to take a sample in August failed because the rock was too brittle to resist the drill of the robot.