Meet the Mars Samples: Roubion (Sample 1)
Meet a Martian sample that has been collected and is awaiting return to Earth as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign. As of June 2023, NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has collected and sealed 19 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 the rover’s first sample, “Roubion,” a planned rock core that unexpectedly became a sample of Mars atmosphere, highly valuable in its own right.
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 1: ROUBION
LOCATION: POLYGON VALLEY, CRATER FLOOR
ASTROBIOLOGIST - MARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER
[Sunanda Sharma] Sample 1 is called “Roubion.” It's an atmospheric sample that we picked up from a place called “Polygon Valley” in the crater floor.
Roubion is our one and only atmospheric sample. So in this case, the rock itself was old and altered, and it kind of crumbled as we were picking up the sample.
And so when things don't go according to plan, we improvise, and we try to still get good science out of it. So in this case, now we have a capture of just the air that was around there, and that's also a valuable sample that we didn't have before.
Learning about the atmosphere is important because that tells us what the elements and chemicals are that are in the air on Mars, which is really different than Earth, and it's different than Mars was in the past. And so we can do the same sorts of analyses that you could do on rocks to understand what makes up the air.
What makes these two planets so similar but so different? The rocks are one part of the story. The air around the rocks is another part of the story.
We decided to drop Roubion in our backup sample depot at Three Forks.
There are not many ways to capture air from another planet, and we've got that.
For more information on Mars Rock Samples: mars.nasa.gov/mars-rock-samples