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NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover hails its ‘dusty dozen’

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is on a roll, having now collected and cached 12 samples of rock and soil during its ongoing explorations of the red planet’s Jezero Crater.

In a tweet (below) posted on Thursday, Perseverance described its collection of samples as “the dusty dozen.” But there’s great hope that the material is a lot more than just plain old martian grime, as it may help scientists to definitively prove if any form of life ever existed on the distant planet. And if it did, it could help us learn more about how life developed on Earth.

Call them the “dusty dozen.” I’ve now got 12 rock core samples on board, collected while #SamplingMars at these different sites around Jezero Crater. Learn more about all my samples, and keep track of the ones still to come:

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) August 5, 2022

In the tweet, Perseverance also highlighted a special page on NASA’s website that lets you learn more about all of the samples that it’s gathered to date.

The fascinating site lets you select each individual sample collection to find out its given name and the date it was gathered. You’ll also discover the rock type and the precise spot where the roving robot collected it. Each listing includes various images, too, captured by Perseverance during the collection process.

Later in the mission, NASA’s Perseverance rover will leave the samples aside for another mission to collect. The material will then be transported to Earth before the end of this decade and analyzed in laboratories to see if it holds any evidence of past microbial life.

Perseverance’s groundbreaking mission began in spectacular fashion in February 2021 when it parachuted to the surface of Mars at the end of a six-month journey from Earth. The incredible spectacle was captured in high-quality video by multiple cameras, giving us our clearest look yet at a rover landing on another planet.

Perseverance also took with it Ingenuity, a small drone-like flying machine that in April 2021 made history when it became the first aircraft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another celestial body. Since then, the 4-pound, 19-inch-high helicopter has made 28 additional flights of varying complexity, with NASA engineers now keen to develop more advanced versions for future missions.

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