The first samples of the Martian rock have been gathered and stored by Perseverance Mars rover of NASA Agency for eventual return to the Earth, but when such samples are going to arrive on Earth is unknown. NASA authorities and project scientists praised gathering two samples from the rock known as “Rochette” as a key step forward from the long-period Mars sample return endeavour, which will be completed no sooner than one decade from currently with the samples returned to the Earth.

“These are the commencement of the Mars sample return,” stated Meenakshi Wadhwa, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University who also serves as sample return principal scientist at the NASA’s Mars.

The first two samples were successfully collected a month after rover attempted and failed to acquire a sample from some other rock called Roubion. Scientists came to the conclusion that the issue was not with sampling apparatus but with the rock itself, which was weaker than predicted and broke during the sampling procedure. According to Yulia Goreva, a scientist at the JPL in charge of the Perseverance return sample investigation, the two volcanic rocks are identical but were presumably subjected to numerous amounts of water. Roubion encountered much more adjustment in the context of salts generated by the water exposure.

According to Katie Stack Morgan, a scientist at the JPL in charge of the Perseverance deputy project, “If these rocks encountered water for lengthy periods, there might well be viable niches in such rocks that might have sustained ancient microbial life.” As a result, the project chose to gather two Rochette samples to eventually store them in different sample caches to boost the chances that at least one of them will make it back to Earth.

During its mission, Perseverance will collect roughly three dozen samples. At the meeting, scientists indicated they were preparing their next sample collection operations and left open the idea of attempting to gather samples from Roubion again. Those samples will be recovered and returned to Earth by two subsequent expeditions. The samples will be collected, loaded into a container, and launched into orbit around Mars by a lander mission which was led by NASA and involving the European Space Agency rover. The samples is going to be collected as well as returned to the Earth by an ESA-led spacecraft equipped with a NASA-supplied collection system.

Those subsequent missions will not launch until 2026, though these are currently in what NASA refers to as Phase A, which is focused on preliminary research. “As part of Phase A, we’re looking into a variety of various approaches to see how we can best execute this mission,” stated NASA’s planetary science division director, Lori Glaze. “Right now, we’re exactly where we should be.”

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