2021: Samples in Review

Mapping Perseverance’s First Six Samples: This annotated map shows the locations where NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover collected its first witness tube and filled its first six samples. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS. Download image ›

As the 2021 calendar year comes to a close, it’s nice to sit back and reflect on all the progress we’ve made on Mars this year. It’s been a busy ~300 sols for both Perseverance and our helicopter sidekick, Ingenuity! 

One of Perseverance’s mission objectives is to collect and store samples of the martian surface for eventual return back to Earth as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign. These samples will include a diverse assemblage of Mars surface materials including rock cores, regolith, and atmosphere. Before collecting a sample, Perseverance uses the drill to abrade the upper few millimeters of the rock surface close to the intended coring target. We then place our proximity science instruments as close as possible to the exposed rock to collect geochemical and mineralogical data. Next, samples are drilled from the martian surface into ultraclean sample tubes using a rotary-percussive drill on the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm. After drilling, each sample tube is brought inside the body of the rover, where it is assessed for sample amount, imaged, and hermetically sealed. 

Perseverance brought 43 sample tubes to Mars, most of which will be filled with martian rock and regolith. Since landing 10 months ago, seven sample tubes have been filled: 

1. The first was a witness tube. Witness tubes (Perseverance has 5) are designed to capture any contaminants shed by the rover during sampling and will be acquired periodically throughout the mission. 

2. The second tube was intended to contain a rock called "Roubion," but no rock core was acquired. This unexpected outcome likely resulted from crumbling of the rock during drilling. Instead, this became our first sample of the martian atmosphere. 

3&4. Our third and fourth samples were acquired as a pair at a ridge-top outcrop called "Rochette." This paired sampling strategy is designed to provide us with options in transferring samples to the follow-on missions that may bring them home. This pair of samples, called "Montdenier" and "Montagnac," were our first two collected rock cores.

5&6. In a similar paired fashion, samples 5 and 6 were collected at an outcrop called "Brac," within the "Séítah" region. These cores were called "Salette" and “Coulettes,” our third and fourth rock cores.

7. As 2021 draws to a close, Perseverance is situated in front of a rock outcrop called "Issole," where we intend to collect another pair of crater floor samples in Seitah. At the time of this writing, Perseverance has successfully filled our seventh sample tube with a rock core sample called "Robine," our fifth core! In the coming sols, Perseverance will attempt to collect another sample core before hitting the road for our next sampling location. 

As a member of the science operations team for Perseverance, I’m involved in the development and execution of our sample collection strategy. To me, sampling is at the heart of the Mars 2020 mission and the perfect intersection of science and engineering. 2021 has been a busy but rewarding year for those of us on the Perseverance team. It’s especially rewarding to think that the samples that Perseverance is collecting will keep scientists busy for decades to come. I’m very excited to see the samples the Perseverance collects in 2022 and beyond!

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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  • Mariah Baker
    Planetary Scientist, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
    Washington, DC
  • Matthew Brand
    SuperCam/ChemCam Engineer, Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • Sawyer Brooks
    Docking Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Adrian Brown
    Deputy Program Scientist, NASA HQ
    Washington, DC
  • Denise Buckner
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Fred Calef III
    Mapping Specialist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Stephanie Connell
    SuperCam, PhD Student, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Alyssa Deardorff
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Kenneth Farley
    Project Scientist, Caltech
    Pasadena, CA
  • Phylindia Gant
    Mars 2020 Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Brad Garczynski
    Student Collaborator, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Erin Gibbons
    Student Collaborator, McGill University
    Montreal, Canada
  • Michael Hecht
    Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Westford, MA
  • Louise Jandura
    Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Elisha Jhoti
    Ph.D. Student, University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Bavani Kathir
    Student Collaborator on Mastcam-Z, Western Washington University
  • Lydia Kivrak
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Rachel Kronyak
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Steven Lee
    Perseverance Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • An Li
    Student Collaborator on PIXL, University of Washington
  • Justin Maki
    Imaging Scientist and Mastcam-Z Deputy Principal Investigator, NASA/JPL
  • Forrest Meyen
    MOXIE Science Team Member, Lunar Outpost
  • Sarah Milkovich
    Assistant Science Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Eleanor Moreland
    Ph.D. Student, Rice University
    Houston, Texas
  • Matt Muszynski
    Vehicle Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Claire Newman
    Atmospheric Scientist, Aeolis Research
    Altadena, CA
  • Avi Okon
    Sampling Operations Deputy Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Pegah Pashai
    Vehicle Systems Engineer Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • David Pedersen
    Co-Investigator, PIXL Instrument, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
    Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Eleni Ravanis
    Student Collaborator, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • Thirupathi Srinivasan
    Robotic Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
  • Kathryn Stack
    Deputy Project Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vivian Sun
    Science Operations Systems Engineer, Staff Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Iona (Brockie) Tirona
    Sampling Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Jennifer Trosper
    Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vandi Verma
    Chief Engineer for Robotic Operations, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Rick Welch
    Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Roger Wiens
    Principal Investigator, SuperCam / Co-Investigator, SHERLOC instrument, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN

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

View Map ›