6 Sept 2021
NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has failed in its first attempt to grab rock samples on Mars for future return to Earth. The car-sized Perseverance landed inside the Red Planet's Jezero Crater this past February with an objective to search for signs of ancient microbial life.
The American space agency in a statement said that data sent to Earth by NASA's Perseverance rover after its first attempt to "collect a rock sample on Mars and seal it in a sample tube indicate that no rock was collected during the initial sampling activity".
"While this is not the 'hole-in-one we hoped for, there is always a risk with breaking new ground," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
"I'm confident we have the right team working this, and we will persevere toward a solution to ensure future success."
The rover carries 43 titanium sample tubes and is exploring Jezero Crater, where it will be gathering samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) for future analysis on Earth. Perseverance's Sampling and Caching System uses a hollow coring bit and a percussive drill at the end of its 7-foot-long (2-meter-long) robotic arm to extract samples.
Telemetry from the rover indicates that during its first coring attempt, the drill and bit were engaged as planned, and post-coring the sample tube was processed as intended.