CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla .– The last NASA spacecraft may have managed to collect the first rock sample to return to Earth after last month’s attempt went empty.
He was described by the rover’s chief engineer, Adam Steltzner, as a perfect base monster.
“I have never been so happy to see a hole in a rock,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
But NASA later said it was waiting for more images before declaring success, although “the team is convinced the sample is in the tube.”
A month ago, Perseverance drilled into softer rock and the sample collapsed and failed to enter the titanium tube. The rover has come half a mile to a better place to try again.
The first photos taken on Wednesday show a sample inside the tube, but subsequent images were inconclusive due to poor lighting, NASA said in a press release. The study indicated that the rock sample – the thickness of a pencil – may have slipped deeper into the tube during a series of planned shaking. More photos are planned.
Perseveringly, in February, they reached Jezero de Mars crater – believed to be home to a lush lake bed and river delta billions of years ago – in search of rocks that might harbor traces of ancient life. NASA plans to launch more spacecraft to retrieve the samples collected through persistence. Engineers hope to return up to thirty samples in ten years.
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