NASA Perseverance Mars Rover To Acquire First Sample

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Perseverance Scouts First Sampling Location

Perseverance Scouts First Sampling Location: A light-colored “paver stone” like the ones seen in this mosaic will be the likely target for first sampling by the Perseverance rover. The image was taken on July 8, 2021, in the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough” geologic unit at Jezero Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

The six-wheeler’s science campaign has laid the groundwork for the mission’s next major milestone.

NASA is making final preparations for its Perseverance Mars rover to collect its first-ever sample of Martian rock, which future planned missions will transport to Earth. The six-wheeled geologist is searching for a scientifically interesting target in a part of Jezero Crater called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.”

Perseverance's First Road Trip

Perseverance’s First Road Trip: This annotated image of Jezero Crater depicts the routes for Perseverance’s first science campaign (yellow hash marks) as well as its second (light-yellow hash marks). Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

This important mission milestone is expected to begin within the next two weeks. Perseverance landed in Jezero Crater February 18, and NASA kicked off the rover mission’s science phase June 1, exploring a 1.5-square-mile (4-square-kilometer) patch of crater floor that may contain Jezero’s deepest and most ancient layers of exposed bedrock.

“When Neil Armstrong took the first sample from the Sea of Tranquility 52 years ago, he began a process that would rewrite what humanity knew about the Moon,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA Headquarters. “I have every expectation that Perseverance’s first sample from Jezero Crater, and those that come after, will do the same for Mars. We are on the threshold of a new era of planetary science and discovery.”

Perseverance Mars Rover First Sample Location

Perseverance Rover Location: This map shows the landing site for NASA’s Perseverance rover within Jezero Crater. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

It took Armstrong 3 minutes and 35 seconds to collect that first Moon sample. Perseverance will require about 11 days to complete its first sampling, as it must receive its instructions from hundreds of millions of miles away while relying on the most complex and capable, as well as the cleanest, mechanism ever to be sent into space – the Sampling and Caching System.

Precision Instruments Working Together

The sampling sequence begins with the rover placing everything necessary for sampling within reach of its 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm. It will then perform an imagery survey, so NASA’s science team can determine the exact location for taking the first sample and a separate target site in the same area for “proximity science.”

“The idea is to get valuable data on the rock we are about to sample by finding its geologic twin and performing detailed in-situ analysis,” said science campaign colead Vivian Sun, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “On the geologic double, first we use an abrading bit to scrape off the top layers of rock and dust to expose fresh, unweathered surfaces, blow it clean with our Gas Dust Removal Tool, and then get up close and personal with our turret-mounted proximity science instruments SHERLOC, PIXL, and WATSON.”

Cratered Floor Fractured Rough First Sample Target

Perseverance First Sample Location: This annotated image depicts the area within the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough” geologic unit that Perseverance rover will hunt for a suitable first sample target. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals), PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), and the WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering) camera will provide mineral and chemical analysis of the abraded target.

Perseverance’s SuperCam and Mastcam-Z instruments, both located on the rover’s mast, will also participate. While SuperCam fires its laser at the abraded surface, spectroscopically measuring the resulting plume and collecting other data, Mastcam-Z will capture high-resolution imagery.

Working together, these five instruments will enable unprecedented analysis of geological materials at the worksite.

“After our pre-coring science is complete, we will limit rover tasks for a sol, or a Martian day,” said Sun. “This will allow the rover to fully charge its battery for the events of the following day.”


Watch as NASA-JPL engineers test the Sample Caching System on the Perseverance Mars rover. Described as one of the most complex robotic systems ever built, the Sample and Caching System will collect core samples from the rocky surface of Mars, seal them in tubes and leave them for a future mission to retrieve and bring back to Earth. Credit: NASA-JPL/Caltech

Sampling day kicks off with the sample-handling arm within the Adaptive Caching Assembly retrieving a sample tube, heating it, and then…



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