A Historic Moment – Perseverance Collects, Seals, and Stores its First Two Rock Samples
'Rochette' After Perseverance Sampling: This image taken by NASA's Perseverance rover on Sept. 7, 2021, PDT (Sept. 8, EDT), shows two holes where the rover's drill obtained chalk-size samples from rock nicknamed "Rochette."  Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Perseverance’s first cored-rock sample is visible inside this titanium sample collection tube in this image taken on Sept. 6, 2021.
Perseverance's First Cored Mars Rock in Sample Tube: Perseverance’s first cored-rock sample is visible inside this titanium sample collection tube in this image taken on Sept. 6, 2021. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
Exactly one month after receiving the “no sample collected” result at Roubion, data from Perseverance confirmed the successful completion of the acquisition and processing of its first rock sample – the first ever on Mars! Once again, the sampling system executed the end-to-end activity without a fault. Unlike the experience in the crumbly Roubion rock, this time the volume measurement confirmed a full-length core approximately 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) long and the bottom of the core inside its sample tube was clearly visible in the CacheCam images. This core, named Montdenier, is sealed within sample tube number 266 and in storage inside Perseverance waiting for its chance to be part of a return trip to Earth.

What a month it’s been! 

Shortly after the investigation at Roubion determined that the unique characteristics of this specific rock likely prevented collection, we set off to find a rock better suited to coring. Ken Farley’s blog on Roubion describes the characteristics and clues that foreshadowed our difficulty in collecting a core there and the strategy for selecting the next rock for sampling. 

Image of a rock core testing with the Sample Caching system.
Cored-Rock Sample From Perseverance Test: This image shows a core, about 2.8 inches (71.1 millimeters) in length, collected from a basaltic rock during a test of the Perseverance rover’s Sampling and Caching System at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
A rock called Rochette was selected as the next candidate for sampling for both its scientific value and to test the idea that Roubion was just a poorly behaved rock. Abrading the surface layer on Rochette revealed a rock with alteration but to a lesser extent than Roubion. We were GO for the next coring attempt. 

To give ourselves some additional flexibility to react to the results this time around we paused to visually confirm the presence of a core in the tube before commanding tube processing. On September 1, we gathered at 10:30 pm Pacific to await the pictures that would give us our first look at the acquisition performance. Success! We could clearly see an intact core in the tube after the coring activity supporting the assertion that Roubion was indeed a crumbly rock. The Montdenier result was well-aligned with our successful Earth-based testing. 

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard Sample Caching System Camera (CacheCam), located inside the rover underbelly. It looks down into the top of a sample tube to take close-up pictures of the sampled material and the tube as it's prepared for sealing and storage.
Mars Perseverance Sol 196: Sample Caching System Camera (CacheCam): NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard Sample Caching System Camera (CacheCam), located inside the rover underbelly. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›
After getting the first sample under our belt, we immediately collected a second “paired” sample of Rochette, at a target called Montagnac, once again running the sampling system autonomously end-to-end as intended. Another full-length core was acquired, sealed, and stored. While initially elusive, this was the result we had so eagerly anticipated. Collecting two cores from Rochette is a huge milestone for both the mission and its team members. The first leg of our sample return mission is fully underway. We needed both perseverance and patience to collect, process, and store our first two rock cores on Mars. But in the end the feeling was one of pure joy!

About This Blog

These blog updates are provided by self-selected Mars 2020 mission team members who love to share what Perseverance is doing with the public.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these blogs are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

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  • Iona Brockie
    Sampling Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Denise Buckner
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Alyssa Deardorff
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Kenneth Farley
    Project Scientist, Caltech
    Pasadena, CA
  • Brad Garczynski
    Student Collaborator, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Louise Jandura
    Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Lydia Kivrak
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Rachel Kronyak
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Pegah Pashai
    Vehicle Systems Engineer Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Jennifer Trosper
    Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Roger Wiens
    Principal Investigator, SuperCam / Co-Investigator, SHERLOC instrument, LANL
    Los Alamos, NM

Tools on the Perseverance Rover+

The Perseverance rover has tools to study the history of its landing site, seek signs of ancient life, collect rock and soil samples, and help prepare for human exploration of Mars. The rover carries:


Where is the Rover?

Image of a rover pin-point at Perseverance's location on Mars, Jezero Crater

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