NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover team announced Thursday that it had successfully excavated its first Martian rock.
A September 1 image of the oddly shaped and dusty long Martian rock provided in an agency statement showed the circular borehole.
NASA said the initial images transferred after the events showed an intact sample present in the sample tube after coring.
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“However, additional images taken after the arm finished acquiring the sample were inconclusive due to the poor sunlight conditions,” he said, noting that the rover would get additional images. of the sample tube with better illumination before processing continues.
“Although the Perseverance mission team is confident that the sample is in the tube, images under optimal lighting conditions will confirm its presence,” NASA wrote.
“The project got its first core rock under its belt, and it’s a phenomenal achievement,” said Jennifer Trosper, project manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “The team determined a location, selected and excavated a viable and scientifically valuable rock. We did what we came to do. We will be working on this little issue with the lighting conditions in the pictures and remain encouraged that there is a sample in this tube. ”
Using a rotary impact drill and a hollow bit – which holds the sample tube – at the end of its robotic arm to extract samples, Perseverance maneuvered the corer, drill, and open end of the sample tube to be photographed by his Mastcam- Z instrument.
The first images showed the end of a rock carved out of the sample tube before “Percy” began a procedure called “percussion to ingest.”
The step vibrates the drill bit and tube five times, which can help a sample slide further down the tube and may overlap the lip of the waste tube.
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After ‘hit to ingest’, Perseverance took their second set of Mastcam-Z images, in which the lighting was poor and the ‘internal parts of the sample tube are not visible’.
NASA said Friday images would be taken when the sun is in a more favorable position and photos would also be captured after sunset to “decrease point sources of light that can saturate an image.”
The photos are expected to be returned to Earth on Saturday morning.
If the new images are still uncertain, the team still has several steps to take, including using the rover’s sampling and caching system volume probe to confirm that the sample is in the tube.
Notably, a previous attempt to sample Martian rock in early August went awry when the team realized that the rover had failed to capture the friable rock in its tube.
NASA then decided to move to the southern Séítah region of the Jezero crater of the red planet.
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Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18 and began its scientific phase – and the hunt for signs of ancient microbial life – on June 1.
In the future, the rock and regolith samples that the rover collects and hides will be returned as part of joint missions with the ESA (European Space Agency).