Disappointment for NASA: The Perseverance (Persistence) research probe made its first drilling over Martian soil over the weekend, but failed to collect a rock sample destined to be sent to Earth in the next decade.
The lander’s robotic arm drilled Friday inside a rock in the Djero crater and the photo it sent showed a perfect circle. “My first drilling hole on Mars!”, Read the mission’s Twitter account. “Collecting rock samples and storing them is a big and complex task, and it’s a huge step. The next step: processing.“
However, when NASA scientists analyzed the information, it became clear to them that despite the successful drilling, the storage tank on the lander remained empty, with no solid sample or dust, unlike all the experiments performed on Earth.
Missionaries are now examining the photographs of the hole in the rock and additional information in an attempt to find out what caused the partial success. “It’s a bit out of the air because all the complex instrumentation worked well, the engineering worked well, but Mars didn’t seem to cooperate,” said project scientist Ken Farley. “But we will persevere.“
The spacecraft, which landed on Mars last February, is expected to collect a number of ground samples that should be the first to be brought back to Earth to allow scientists to gain a better understanding of the red planet’s past. NASA and the European Space Agency are expected to build a spacecraft to collect the samples, but the historic mission is expected to be completed only in 2031.