Celebrating the achievement, the space agency tweeted through the rover’s own account on Twitter an image of the collected sample as well as an explanatory message. The rock was collected by Percy on its 190th day on Mars, and NASA confirmed the data on September 1 following a series of hiccups in previous attempts. Despite receiving data from the rover, scientists wanted to be certain that rock samples had actually been taken and so had to wait for proper lighting before snapping an image of the sample itself inside the titanium collection tube, which was ultimately achieved on September 5.
As for the sample itself, images depict rust-red sediment which Arizona State University’s planetary geologist Steven Ruff explains could possibly be iron-rich minerals. Percy had managed to obtain it from its landing site in Jezero Crater, which used to be submerged in a massive body of water, making the sample even more special. “Both of those rock targets that they’ve interrogated look different than really anything that we’ve seen anywhere else on Mars,” Ruff remarked.
The next steps will see Percy seal off the sample before moving on to collect dozens more, which NASA hopes will be dropped off across different locations on Mars to be subsequently retrieved for research back on Earth. NASA has plans to construct a Martian lander carrying a retrieval rover and launch them as early as 2026, with a return trip scheduled for sometime in early 2030.
I’ve got it! With better lighting down the sample tube, you can see the rock core I collected is still in there. Up next, I’ll process this sample and seal the tube. #SamplingMars
— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) September 5, 2021
Elsewhere in tech, people are now spending more time watching videos on TikTok than YouTube.