NASA′s Perseverance rover succeeds in Mars rock collection | News | DW | 03.09.2021

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NASA's Perseverance rover succeeds in Mars rock collection

NASA's Perseverance rover succeeded on its second try to scoop up rocks on Mars. While the first effort failed, this second attempt has excited Earth-based scientists.

 The shadow of the Perseverance Mars rover next to the first hole it drilled in a rock

The shadow of the Perseverance Mars rover next to the first hole it drilled in a rock in early August

NASA announced the Perseverance rover exploring Mars succeeded on in scooping up Martian rock on its second try.

The first effort was a bust after the rock it tried to scoop up crumbled as the Perseverance robot drill got to work.

Earth-based scientists were thrilled by the undertaking.

Perseverance rover's chief engineer Adam Steltzner tweeted: "I've never been more happy to see a hole in a rock." 

Rock of ages

The data received on September 1 indicates that the process for Perseverance to lift and collect rock from Mars succeeded.

Perseverance has scientific instruments mounted on a turret that can determine chemical and mineral composition, as well as seek out organic matter.

The drill Perseverance used to collect the rock sample is two meters (6 1/2 feet) long. The robotic arms take samples with a hollow coring bit slightly thicker than a pencil, and then stores these samples under its robotic belly.

The target of the rock collection was nicknamed "Rochette" by scientists. The briefcase-sized rock was along a 900-meter-long ridgeline.

Watch video 01:34

NASA extracts oxygen from CO2 on Mars

Mission uncertainty

Scientists are still uncertain if they achieved their goal, due to lighting conditions at the time of the effort and the apparent lack of shade on the side of Mars facing the sun.

"We will work through this small hiccup with the lighting conditions in the images and remain encouraged that there is a sample in this tube," said Jennifer Trosper, the project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Scientists are eager to determine whether there is or was microbial life on Mars.

Watch video 02:35

NASA's space rover Perseverance touches down on Mars

ar/sms (AFP, AP)