How Many Samples Will NASA' s Perseverance Rover Collect On Mars?

On August 6, NASA's Perseverance rover tried to drill into the Martian surface for the first time after six months of traveling on Mars. 

Everything seemed to proceed according to plan, but when the rover's operators examined the sample tube after it had been sealed and stowed within the rover, they discovered it to be empty. 

  • Jennifer Trosper, the Perseverance project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, "It went pretty well, other than the rock reacted in a manner that didn't enable us to collect any material in the tube." 
  • The mission's operators believe that when the rover bore into the rock to collect a sample, it disintegrated into a fine powder and spilled out of the tube, based on the data. 

Trosper adds, "We need a more cooperative kind of rock." 

  • “This one was crumbly — it may have had a firm surface on the outside, but as we went inside, all the grains simply fell apart.” 
  • This didn't happen during Earth-based testing of the sample equipment, and it hasn't happened with any of the previous Mars rovers. 
  • While the sampling tube cannot be unsealed and reused, researchers had requested a sample of Martian air, which is included in the sealed tube. 
  • Trosper explains, "We weren't aiming to capture the air sample, but it's not a waste of a tube." 

There are 43 sample tubes on Perseverance, so there are still lots of chances to gather Martian rocks. 

  • When it comes to future sample efforts with Perseverance, Trosper believes this failed endeavor isn't a reason for worry. 
  • The crew intends to utilize the scientific equipment aboard the rover to check that a sample was obtained before sealing the tube and stashing it within the rover for the next attempt, which is scheduled for early September.

During its two-year journey, the rover will gather approximately 40 samples. 

  • Perseverance will eventually store these samples on Mars' surface, where they will be picked up and returned to Earth by a later NASA mission. 
  • Returning the samples to Earth will enable scientists to examine them in much more depth than we can on Mars, particularly when looking for indications of previous life.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration strategy, which includes Artemis lunar missions to assist prepare for human exploration of Mars. 

The Perseverance rover was constructed and is operated by JPL, which is administered for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California. 

For additional information about Perseverance, go to:


~ Jai Krishna Ponnappan

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