On September 6th, NASA’s perseverance rover has collected the first ever rock sample from Mars. The sample, which is just slightly thicker than a pencil, was taken from Jezero Crater on the red planet.
The first sample-taking process began on Wednesday, September 1st, where the drill at the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm cored into a flat, briefcase-size Mars rock. After this sampling process was completed, a photo of the sample rock inside the tube was then sent back to earth, using the rovers Mastcam-Z camera instrument. The rover the transferred the sample tube and its Martian cargo into the rover’s interior to measure and image the rock core.
“With over 3,000 parts, the Sampling and Caching System is the most complex mechanism ever sent into space,” said Larry D. James, interim director of JPL. “Our Perseverance team is excited and proud to see the system perform so well on Mars and take the first step for returning samples to Earth. We also recognize that a worldwide team of NASA, industry partners, academia, and international space agencies contributed to and share in this historic success.”
Below is a photo of Perseverance’s first cored-rock sample of Mars rock. It can be seen inside its titanium container tube taken by the rover’s Sampling and Caching System Camera (known as CacheCam).