Skip to main content

NASA shows off Perseverance rover’s first Martian rock sample

NASA has tweeted images of the first sample of martian rock collected by its Perseverance rover.

The team at the space agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is overseeing the mission, posted images of the gathered particles on Monday, September 6. The sample, along with others expected to be collected by the rover in the coming months, will be brought to Earth by another mission taking place some time in the 2030s.

“It’s official: I’ve now captured, sealed, and stored the first core sample ever drilled on another planet, in a quest to return samples to Earth,” JPL said on Perseverance’s Twitter account, adding that “it’s the first in a one-of-a-kind martian rock collection.”

It’s official: I’ve now captured, sealed, and stored the first core sample ever drilled on another planet, in a quest to return samples to Earth. It’s the first in a one-of-a-kind Martian rock collection. #SamplingMars

Read more:

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) September 6, 2021

NASA chief Bill Nelson described the successful collection effort as “a momentous achievement,” while Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science, said it was “truly a historic moment.”

Zurbuchen added: “Just as the Apollo moon missions demonstrated the enduring scientific value of returning samples from other worlds for analysis here on our planet, we will be doing the same with the samples Perseverance collects as part of our Mars Sample Return program. Using the most sophisticated science instruments on Earth, we expect jaw-dropping discoveries across a broad set of science areas, including exploration into the question of whether life once existed on Mars.”

The successful collection by Perseverance followed a failed effort last month when the drilled rock particles slipped from the collection tube as they were too powdery to stay lodged inside.

After that, JPL sent the rover in search of a new rock with a more stable structure that would increase the chances of obtaining a sample.

Perseverance performed the extraction process last week but JPL needed to make additional checks to confirm that the collected material was well and truly sealed inside the tube. The sample is described as “slightly thicker than a pencil” and is now safely enclosed in an airtight titanium sample tube.

Perseverance landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater in February following a six-month journey from Earth. Astonishing footage shows the rover touching down on the Martian surface at the start of its mission. It also brought with it Ingenuity, a small drone-like device that’s set a record of its own, becoming the first aircraft to achieve controlled, powered flight on another planet.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Perseverance rover collects its first sample from Jezero delta
This image shows the rocky outcrop the Perseverance science team calls Berea after the NASA Mars rover extracted a rock core and abraded a circular patch. The image was taken by the rover's Mastcam-Z instrument on March 30, 2023.

Things are heating up on Mars, as the Perseverance rover begins its new science campaign. In its previous science campaign, the NASA rover explored the floor of the Jezero crater, but now it has moved on to investigate an exciting location called the delta. As the site of an ancient river delta, this region is a great location to search for evidence of ancient life and to find rocks carried from far-off locations by the river that was there millions of years ago.

Perseverance collected its first sample of this science campaign last week, on Thursday, March 30. This is the 19th sample of rock and dust that the rover has collected so far, with 10 of those samples carefully left behind in a sample cache on the Martian surface. The latest sample was collected from a rock named "Berea" which is thought to be made up of deposits that were carried by the river.

Read more
NASA and Boeing reveal new date for first crewed Starliner flight
A graphic rendering of the Boeing Starliner orbiting Earth.

NASA and Boeing had been hoping to perform the first crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft next month, but on Wednesday they announced the mission will now take place no earlier than Friday, July 21.

“While the Starliner spacecraft build is complete, additional time is needed to close out verification and validation work prior to the system’s first flight with crew on board,” Boeing said in a statement posted on its website.

Read more
NASA’s plucky Mars helicopter eyes another flight record
Mars helicopter

NASA’s plucky Mars helicopter, Ingenuity, is about to embark on its 49th flight on the red planet.

The diminutive drone-like aircraft arrived on Mars with the Perseverance rover in February 2021.

Read more