On Mars, the Nasa rover fails in its first attempt to collect rocks

Eva Deschamps / August 7, 2021

The Perseverance rover failed in its first attempt to collect a piece of rock on Mars, the first of about 30 samples to be returned to Earth in several years for analysis, Nasa said Friday.
 
The U.S. space agency had published earlier in the day photographs showing clearly, next to the shadow of the vehicle, a small mound with a hole in its center -- the first dug by the robot on the red planet. The collection of samples has begun!, had then tweeted Thomas Zurbuchen, director for Science of the U.S. space agency. But the data transmitted by the spacecraft to Earth indicate that no samples were collected in this first attempt to collect rocks. This is not the result we expected, there is always a risk when embarking on unprecedented exploration, Zurbuchen said in a statement. I am confident that we have the right team for this operation and we will persevere to find a solution to ensure success in the future, he continued. 
 
The process of collecting a sample -- the size of chalk and sealed in an airtight tube -- should take about 11 days in total. The goal: to look for signs of ancient life, such as traces of fossilized microbial life in rocks, but also to better understand the Martian geology. The mission took off from Florida just over a year ago. The module, which is the size of a large SUV, landed on February 18 in the Jezero crater, which scientists believe was home to a deep lake 3.5 billion years ago. An environment that could have created the conditions necessary for extraterrestrial life. Nasa is planning a mission to bring the samples back to Earth in the 2030s, so that they can be analysed by instruments that are much more sophisticated than those that can be brought to Mars at the moment. 
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