Why did Perseverance take 2 samples from the same rock on Mars?

NASA’s Perseverance rover collected its fifth Martian sample from a rock it had previously drilled. This double sampling is justified by a promising characteristic of this target.

« This rock is so cool that I sampled it twice! In these few words, NASA announced on November 24 on Twitter that its rover Perseverance has just obtained its fifth sample from Mars. The sample was well capped and sealed in a tube, now containing a second piece of rock in which the rover had already drilled.

A rock containing “a greenish mineral”

Why did you dig twice in the same rock? ” I double the samples on some priority targets like this », Specifies the tweet of @NASAPersevere. A few days earlier, on November 16, NASA had reported that the rover had taken a piece of a ” rock loaded with olivine, a greenish mineral Which apparently interested researchers a lot.

On Earth, olivine (which owes its name to its olive green color) is a mineral found in peridotites, rocks constituting the main part of the Earth’s mantle. For the moment, Nasa does not give a precise indication on the origin that the olivine could have on this Martian rock. ” The hypotheses are bursting! Just mentioned the tweet.

The sample taken by Perseverance. // Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech (cropped photo)

In the belly of the rover, lots of tubes to fill

The subject seems in any case to have a scientific interest, so that the rover carries out two holes in the same target. Perseverance began its first samples at the end of September 2021, in a rock which had received the nickname “Rochette”. In total, the robot carries 43 tubes, which it must gradually fill as it explores the Jezero crater, where it landed in February. The goal is to one day bring these tubes back to Earth – which hasn’t always been the case. Perseverance will deposit them on the surface of Mars, so that another robot can come and get them.

The analysis of these samples on Earth is eagerly awaited, because for the moment only samples of the Moon, as well as comet and asteroid samples, have been brought back from space. For the first time, the return of samples will be organized from a microbiological perspective, that is to say with the intention of looking for any traces of life. However, it should be borne in mind that confirming such a discovery could prove to be very complex.

Explore the red planet with the Mars 2020 mission

Leave a Comment