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NASA’s newest Mars rover snags 1st rock sample for return

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s newest Mars rover has successfully collected its first rock sample for return to Earth, after last month’s attempt came up empty.

The Perseverance rover’s chief engineer, Adam Stelzner, called it a perfect core sample.

“I’ve never been more happy to see a hole in a rock,” he tweeted Thursday.

A month ago, Perseverance drilled into much softer rock, and the sample crumbled and didn’t get inside the titanium tube. The rover drove a half-mile to a better sampling spot to try again. Team members analyzed data and pictures before declaring success.

Perseverance arrived in February at Mars’ Jezero Crater — believed to be the home of a lush lakebed and river delta billions of years ago — in search of rocks that might hold evidence of ancient life. NASA plans to launch more spacecraft to retrieve the samples collected by Perseverance; engineers are hoping to return as many as three dozen samples in about a decade.


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