One rover that’s been especially crucial in this research is Perseverance. Since landing on the Martian surface in February 2021, Perseverance has collected an enormous amount of data. It’s helped confirm an ancient lake in the Jezero Crater, shared hundreds of thousands of photos, and — most importantly — collected rock samples that’ll eventually be sent to Earth. These rock samples hold critical data about Mars’ history. If we’re lucky, they may even confirm that the Red Planet once had life.
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Acquiring these rock samples is no easy task, which is why the successful collection of each one is worth celebrating. On March 8, 2022, the Perseverance Twitter account confirmed it had cored and collected its seventh rock sample of the mission. As the Tweet explains, “My rock collection is growing… I’ve got my seventh core sample onboard, drilled from the rock you see here.” The photo above offers a full view of the rock and Perseverance’s sampling equipment above it. The picture below provides a closer look at the rock, along with the sample stored safely inside Perseverance.
The First Sample Since Perseverance’s Big Issue
While each new rock sample is exciting, this seventh one is especially important. Why? It’s one of the first samples Perseverance has collected since its big issue earlier this year. After attempting to collect its sixth rock sample on December 29, NASA announced in early January that something had gone wrong. During the collection process, multiple pieces of debris got stuck inside Perseverance and prevented the sample from being securely sealed in its tube. NASA eventually got the debris cleared out and re-collected a sample from that same rock on January 31. This seventh sample was collected without any known problems, indicating that Perseverance is back to running like normal.
What’s next for Perseverance now that it has this seventh sample? According to its Twitter account, Perseverance plans “to get one more sample here before heading on toward the ancient river delta.” It’s believed that this delta could have once been home to microbial life on Mars. If it was, collecting rock samples in that region should prove/disprove that. It’ll be a few more years before scientists on Earth are able to closely study these samples for themselves, but with each new one Perseverance collects, we get one step closer to uncovering the Red Planet’s many secrets.