NASA Perseverance Mars Rover to Acquire First Sample


View from the Perseverance rover as it scouts its first sampling location.
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A light-colored paver stone, like the ones seen in this mosaic image, will be the likely target for first sampling by the Perseverance rover. This image was taken July 8, 2021, in the Cratered Floor Fractured Rough geologic unit at Jezero Crater.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

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.

This important mission milestone is expected to begin within the next two weeks. Perseverance landed in Jezero Crater Feb. 18, and NASA kicked off the rover missions science phase June 1, exploring a 1.5-square-mile (4-square-kilometer) patch of crater floor that may contain Jezeros 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 Perseverances 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.

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 (2-meter) long robotic arm. It will then perform an imagery survey, so NASAs science team can determine the exact location for taking the first sample, and a separate target site in the same area for proximity science.

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