FIRST PERSEVERANCE ROVER MARS ROCK SAMPLES SUGGEST JEZERO CRATER WAS ONCE HABITABLE | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

FIRST PERSEVERANCE ROVER MARS ROCK SAMPLES SUGGEST JEZERO CRATER WAS ONCE HABITABLE

The first Martian rock samples collected by NASA’s Perseverance rover for eventual return to Earth suggest landing site Jezero Crater harbored water for a long enough time to be habitable for microbial life.

On Sept. 2, 2021, using the drill attached to the end of its seven-foot (2.1-meter) robotic arm, the rover successfully collected the first of up to 30 rock samples. It was Perseverance’s second attempt to collect a sample as the first attempt Aug. 5 failed because the rock crumbled before it could be placed in a collection tube.

Initial images of the stored sample captured by the Perseverance rover’s Mastcam-Z camera were blurry due to low levels of sunlight at the time the images were taken. For this reason, mission scientists made sure to capture additional photos of the sample over the next few days under better lighting conditions. Once the sample was successfully collected, the drill bit vibrated for just one second five separate times to throw off residual material.

“The project got its first cored rock under its belt, and that’s a phenomenal accomplishment,” project manager Jennifer Trosper of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in a public statement. “The team determined a location, and selected and cored a viable and scientifically valuable rock. We did what we came to do.”

Mission scientists named the first sample Montdenier. A second sample from the same rock, which was collected several days later, was named Montagnac.

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