Nasa Perseverance rover prepares to collect first Martian sample for Earth
- The Perseverance rover will perform an imagery survey to help Nasa’s science team determine the exact location for collecting the sample.
After spending weeks in Jezero Crater, Nasa’s Perseverance rover is making final preparations to collect the first-ever Martian samples. The Perseverance rover, which landed on Mars on February 18, has been exploring a 4 square kilometre patch of the crater floor in search of a scientifically interesting target to collect Martian rocks.
The US space agency said on Wednesday that the rover will require about 11 days to complete its first sampling with the help of the ‘Sampling and Caching System’. The rover will perform an imagery survey to help Nasa’s science team determine the exact location for collecting the sample. The mission is aimed at learning whether life ever existed on Mars.
“The idea is to get valuable data on the rock we are about to sample by finding its geologic twin and performing detailed in-situ analysis,” said science campaign co-lead Vivian Sun, from Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
The science team has identified the Jezero Crater as an ancient lakebed that gradually dried up as the climate on the Red Planet changed. Scientists have planned to collect rocks from Jezero Crater since evidence of life on Earth is often preserved in the mud and sand deposited at the bottom of the lake. The ongoing mission is the first leg of a relay race to return samples from Mars.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at Nasa Headquarters, said in a statement that Neil Armstrong began a process that would rewrite what humanity knew about the Moon when he collected the first sample from the ‘Sea of Tranquility’ during the Apollo 11 mission.
“I have every expectation that Perseverance’s first sample from Jezero Crater, and those that come after, will do the same for Mars. We are on the threshold of a new era of planetary science and discovery,” he added.