Perseverance, the NASA rover on Mars, should have succeeded in taking a sample of rocks, the heart of its mission on the Red Planet, after a first failure, said the US space agency on Thursday.
“Data transmitted late September 1 by the rover Perseverance indicates that the team has succeeded in its objective of taking rock from Mars,” NASA said in a statement.
The size of a briefcase
An uncertainty remains, however: initial images did indeed show an intact sample in the collection tube, but additional images were found to be inconclusive due to a lack of brightness.
“Even if the team of the Perseverance mission is confident that the sample is in the tube, photos taken under better lighting will confirm its presence” by Saturday, specifies NASA. NASA chose a rock the size of a briefcase, called “Rochette”.
About thirty samples
Perseverance had failed in its first attempt to remove a piece of rock from Mars last August. The module, which is the size of a large SUV, landed on February 18 in Jezero crater, which scientists believe was home to a deep lake 3.5 billion years ago. An environment that could have created the conditions necessary for extraterrestrial life.
Its objective: to look for signs of ancient life, such as traces of microbial life fossilized in rocks, but also to better understand Martian geology. NASA is planning a mission to bring back thirty samples to Earth in the 2030s, so that they can be analyzed by much more sophisticated instruments than those that can be brought to Mars today.