NASA’s Perseverance rover has dropped an “early Christmas present” on the Martian surface — a second rock sample tube. The 7.3-centimetre-long sample is the longest rock core collected by the Mars rover to date. This tube is one of the ten samples that will be considered for a journey back to Earth as part of the space agency’s Mars sample return program.
The Perseverance Rover team at NASA announced the dropping of the sample on the rover’s official Twitter account on December 24. “My second sample drop is looking good! This tube holds a piece of sedimentary rock from the edge of the ancient river delta here – the longest rock core I’ve taken to date,” said a tweet by the agency.
The first sample dropped on the Martian surface was placed there on December 21 and is called “Malay” and was collected on January 31 this year from another part of the Jezero Crater called “South Seitah.
According to NASA, the Perseverance Rover’s Sampling and Caching System takes almost an hour to retrieve the metal tube from the rover’s body, view it with the internal CacheCam and drop it nearly 89 centimetres onto a select patch on the planet’s surface.