Meet the Mars Samples: Montdenier and Montagnac (Samples 2 and 3)
Meet two of the Martian samples that have been collected and are awaiting return to Earth as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign. As of late June 2023, NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has collected and sealed 20 scientifically selected samples inside pristine tubes. The next stage is to get them back for study.
Considered one of the highest priorities by the scientists in the Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032, Mars Sample Return would be the first mission to return samples from another planet and provides the best opportunity to reveal the early evolution of Mars, including the potential for ancient life. NASA is teaming with ESA (European Space Agency) on this important endeavor.
Learn more about Samples No. 2 and 3 – “Montdenier” and “Montagnac” – the first pair of rock cores collected by Perseverance, which were taken from an igneous rock on the floor of Jezero Crater. Scientists believe that detailed analysis of these samples could help them piece together the timeline of the area’s past, which was marked by volcanic activity and periods of persistent water.
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, as well as be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
MARS ROCK SAMPLES
SAMPLE 2 & 3: MONTDENIER & MONTAGNAC
LOCATION: ARTUBY RIDGE, CRATER FLOOR
SCIENCE OPERATIONS - MARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER
[Rachel Kronyak] Sample No. 2 is named “Montdenier.” Sample No. 3 is called “Montagnac.” This was our first pair of rock core samples collected from the “Artuby Ridge” region.
We didn't anticipate finding igneous rocks on the crater floor; we thought we might be seeing things like lake sediments and sedimentary rocks for the most part. But instead what we found were a lot of igneous rocks of a couple of different types.
We found that in this rock were sort of pits and cavities and minerals that led us to believe that this rock had encountered quite a large amount of aqueous alteration – so, interaction with groundwater some time after it was deposited. We're really excited about igneous rocks because once we have those rocks in laboratories here on Earth, we can use all sorts of laboratory techniques to understand the crystallization age. So it helps us get a very exact age for when these rocks were forming, which is a really useful thing that we've never been able to do before on Mars.
Montagnac was drilled and sealed in the same sol and the sample is slightly larger. So that is the sample that we kept onboard the rover, whereas we placed the Montdenier sample in our Three Fork sample depot.
To celebrate the collection of our first sample pair on the surface of Mars we used the camera on the end of our robotic arm called “WATSON,” and we took a celebration selfie.
For more information on Mars Rock Samples: mars.nasa.gov/mars-rock-samples