NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars just caught its new rock sample (photos)
NASA’s Perseverance rover continues to collect Martian rocks.
The car-sized robot just grabbed its fourth Red Planet rock sample, drilling another core out of an intriguing stone it first got sampled a little over a week ago.
“Such a beautiful rock, I sampled it twice! I just plugged and sealed my fifth sample tube, with another piece of this interesting rock. I’m doubling the samples on some high priority targets like this one. “, members of the Perseverance rover team wrote on Wednesday (November 24) via the official Twitter account of the mission, by also posting two photos of the sampling operation.
Related: Where to find the latest Mars photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover
Perseverance landed in February on the floor of the Jezero de Mars crater, which was home to a large lake and river delta billions of years ago. The rover is looking for signs of ancient martian life and the collection of dozens of samples, which a joint NASA-European Space Agency campaign will transport to Earth, possibly as early as 2031.
Perseverance has sealed five sample tubes to date, as noted in the tweet above. But one of these tubes is empty: the first rock that the robot tried to take, in August, turned out to be exceptionally soft, crumble to pieces who didn’t in the designated titanium tube.
The newly collected sample comes from the same rock that Perseverance drilled on November 15. This stone is rich in olivine, a greenish mineral, an iron and magnesium silicate that makes up most of the Earth’s upper mantle.
“There are several ideas within my science team as to how it got there. Hypotheses fly! Science rules”, the Perseverance team tweeted on November 16, when he announced the success of collecting sample number three.
Perseverance may be millions of miles from her home planet, but she is not alone. The rover landed with a small robotic partner, a 4 pound (1.8 kilogram) helicopter named Ingenuity, which demonstrated that aerial exploration is possible on Mars.
Ingenuity is now doing scouting work for Perseverance. The small helicopter has racked up 16 Red Planet flights to date, the most recent of which took place on Sunday (21 November).
Mike Wall is the author of “The low“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about finding alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.