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NASA’s Perseverance rover, the robotic explorer, is preparing to collect its first Martian sample within the next two weeks. The sample will be returned to Earth by missions in the 2030s. Perseverance landed in Jezero Crater in February. the site was home to an ancient lake and river delta, very longtime ago. Most ancient layers of rock could be found there. „We are on the threshold of a new era of planetary science and discovery,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. The history of Mars can be told by the minerals and chemicals trapped within rocks on its surface. Perseverance will receive instructions from its teams on Earth ahead of collecting the first sample. The rover will use an abrading tool to scrape off the top layers of the rock, blow it clean and study it using Perseverance’s science instruments. The sample will be about the size of a piece of chalk. Perseverance will continue to investigate this part of the crater, it will continue to drive and collect four unique samples. The main goal of the Perseverance rover is to help unlock the history of Mars.
The rover is currently driving over what the scientists call paver stones, and they are eager to learn if they are sedimentary or volcanic. It has spied a wealth of rocks that intrigue scientists. One of those is a small hill of layered rocks called Artuby, nicknamed for a river in southern France. The rock collection mission, which will begin within the next two weeks, will take Perseverance 11 days to complete, NASA said. The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is the first step in NASA’s Mars Sample Return Campaign. Subsequent NASA missions, now in development in cooperation with the European Space Agency, would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.