Perseverance's First 2 Regolith Samples
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover snagged two samples of regolith – broken rock and dust – on Dec. 2 and 6, 2022. This set of images, taken by the rover's left navigation camera, shows Perseverance's robotic arm over the two holes left after the samples were collected.
The samples were taken in Mars' Jezero Crater from a pile of wind-blown sand and dust called a "mega-ripple" – a feature similar to but smaller than a dune. One of the two regolith samples will be considered for deposit on the Martian surface this month as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign.
Studying regolith with powerful lab equipment back on Earth will allow scientists to better understand the processes that have shaped the surface of Mars and help engineers design future missions as well as equipment used by future Martian astronauts.
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for the agency by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.
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