On Dec. 21, 2022, the Perseverance Rover started to position its rock samples on the Martian surface. Two days ago, on Jan. 04, the Robot deposited the fourth out of ten titanium tubes on the Red Planet. Each sample tube weighs less than 60 grams and has laser-etched serial numbers on the outside, so the team can identify what they contain.
🔴🔴🔴🔴⚪⚪⚪⚪⚪⚪— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) January 4, 2023
Sample Depot: 40% complete!
Another successful tube drop adds to my growing collection here at the “Three Forks” location. Four of the 10 tubes I’m leaving here as a backup set are down. More on my samples: https://t.co/SuSfqeBI37 pic.twitter.com/UNjgtqSFh2
Over the next two months, the samples will be released on the Mars’ Jezero Crater region, called “Three Forks“, starting the earliest phase of Nasa’s Mars Sample Return mission. After depositing the ten rock samples, another rover will land on Mars and gather the samples in a containment capsule aboard a small rocket that would be captured by a spacecraft and returned to Earth no earlier than the mid-2030s.
The Perseverance Rover is part of the Mars 2020 Mission, which in turn belongs to 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.
The Rover landed on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021, and its mission will last at least one Martian year (687 Earth days). It is searching for signs of past microbial life and collecting samples for a future human landing.
During its adventure on the Red Planet, Perseverance already achieved important accomplishments:
- Collecting the first rock samples from another planet;
- Testing the first prototype oxygen generator for Mars;
- Serving as a base station for Ingenuity.
- Driving for more than 300m in a single day (a record for a Martian Rover)
All of this sounds incredible if we consider that this robot has flown in space for more than 7 months and that this is only the first part of the Mars Return mission.