According to NASA, the key objective of the Perseverance Rover mission is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will keep on collecting samples to help scientists understand the planet’s geology and past climate, and ultimately study the possibility of human exploration of the red planet.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Perseverance Mars Rover on Friday collected the first-ever sample of Martian rock. The space agency took to Twitter and shared the first glimpse of the drill hole on Mars.
Once the samples are brought back to Earth, researchers will be able to determine the age, as well as gain new insights into the planet’s past.
On Friday, the Perseverance Rover collected the rock core, which is about the size of a piece of classroom chalk, after looking for the perfect drilling spot for days. However, the sample will not be back on Earth before 2031.
Launched last year, Perseverance is designed to explore the crater Jezero on the planet as part of NASA’s Mars mission. It is accompanied by a helicopter, Ingenuity, which is the first rotorcraft to ever fly on Mars. So far, it has made 11 flights, often scouting terrain around the rover to help the scientists get a better idea of where they might want to explore next.
Moreover, the rover will most likely keep exploring around Jezero’s floor until early 2022. After that, it will head towards the ancient river delta that is the mission’s ultimate target.