TechnologyPerseverance Mars rover bags 12th Red Planet rock sample

Perseverance Mars rover bags 12th Red Planet rock sample


- Advertisment -spot_imgspot_imgspot_imgspot_img
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance collected its 12th Red Planet rock sample on Aug. 3, 2022.

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance collected its 12th Red Planet rock sample on Aug. 3, 2022.
(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

NASA’s Perseverance rover has now collected a dozen Martian rocks.

The car-sized Perseverance drilled out and sealed up its 12th rock sample on Wednesday (Aug. 3), mission team members announced via Twitter (opens in new tab) today (Aug. 5) — its fourth such operation in less than a month.

In February 2021, Perseverance landed with NASA’s tiny Ingenuity helicopter on the floor of the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater, which harbored a big lake and a river delta billions of years ago. The six-wheeled rover is hunting for signs of ancient Mars life and bagging up dozens of samples for future return to Earth, among other tasks.

Related: 12 amazing photos from the Perseverance rover’s 1st year on Mars

The first eight rock samples that Perseverance collected — from September 2021 to March of this year — were volcanic in origin, according to the mission team’s sample log (opens in new tab). But the last four, which were gathered between July 7 and Wednesday, all come from sedimentary rocks.

As that change suggests, Perseverance is now exploring a remnant of the delta, examining layered rock formations that built up over time as silt fell out of Jezero’s ancient river. Such deposits are more likely than volcanic ones to harbor organic compounds and other possible signs of Mars life, if it ever existed, Perseverance team members have said. So it’s not surprising that the sample-collecting pace has now picked up.

Perseverance carries a total of 43 sample tubes, 38 of which can be filled with Martian rock and dirt. The other five are “witness tubes,” which will help the mission team determine which materials, if any, in collected samples may be contaminants from Earth.

Perseverance has now sealed up 15 of those 43 tubes. Twelve contain rock cores, one holds Martian air, and the other two are witness tubes. (The “atmospheric sample” was sealed in the aftermath of Perseverance’s abortive first rock grab, an August 2021 attempt that failed when the drilled material crumbled to bits.)

These tubes will be brought to Earth by a joint NASA-European Space Agency (ESA) campaign, perhaps as early as 2033. The architecture of that campaign changed recently; NASA and ESA decided to eliminate an ESA-provided “fetch rover” and rely instead on Perseverance and, if needed, two Ingenuity-like helicopters to deliver the sample tubes to the NASA rocket that will launch them off the Martian surface. 

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Mike Wall

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, “Out There,” was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.

Read More

Latest news

Meta testing stronger Facebook Messenger encryption after Nebraska abortion case

Facebook parent company Meta on Thursday announced that it’s testing a new feature whereby users can back up end-to-end...

Intel teases Arc A750 performance with new benchmarks

Intel revealed the Arc A750 performance benchmarks this week in a blog post. The post details how the upcoming...

Google Pixel 7 news and rumors

The Google Pixel 6 represented a big shift in direction for Google. The phone is the first to offer...

Xiaomi’s Mix Fold 2 is the best Galaxy Z Fold 4 rival, but you can’t buy it

Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Z Fold 4 on Wednesday, and the foldable already has a great rival in China....
- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_imgspot_imgspot_img

Newest Nest Thermostat is $89, which is cheaper than Prime Day

If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, we may receive an...

SpaceX fires up Starship Super Heavy booster again in long engine test

Home News Spaceflight SpaceX's Booster 7 Super Heavy prototype fires one of its Raptor engines for 20 seconds during a static fire...

Must read

DAILY DRIVE PODCAST: August 10, 2022

Breadcrumb Home Weekend Drive Podcast CHIPS Act becomes law, eye-popping EV registration...

Canada’s Unifor union elects Lana Payne president

Lana Payne has been elected as the new national...

Maserati to offer 10-year sports car powertrain warranties

Maserati will sell warranty coverage as long as 10...

Solera Auto Finance breaks 2,000-dealer mark

Solera Auto Finance focuses on near-prime and subprime used-vehicle...
- Advertisement -spot_imgspot_imgspot_img

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you