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September 2, 2021

by Marcia Dunn

NASA’s newest Mars rover may have successfully collected its first rock sample to return to Earth after failing last month.

But NASA later said it was waiting for more photos before reporting success, even though “the team is confident the sample is in the tube”.

A month ago, Perseverance was drilling a lot softer rock, and the sample crumbled and did not get into the titanium tube. The rover drove half a mile to a better place to try again.

Initial photos taken on Wednesday show a sample in the tube, but later images were inconclusive due to poor lighting, the company said NASA in a press release with. The rock sample – about as thick as a pencil – could have slipped deeper into the tube during a series of planned vibrations, it said. More photos are planned.

Persistence reached Mars’ Jezero crater in February, believed to be home to a lush lake bed and river delta billions of years ago, in search of rocks that are evidence of ancient Could contain life. NASA plans to launch more spacecraft to retrieve the samples collected by Perseverance; Engineers hope to be able to return up to three dozen samples in about a decade.

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