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NASA confirms Mars rover's 1st rock sample grab, 40 to go

Last Updated Sep 7, 2021 at 1:02 pm MDT

FILE - This March 4, 2021 file photo made available by NASA was taken during the first drive of the Perseverance rover on Mars. The Perseverance rover has been on Mars for a month, collecting data and making discoveries with each passing day. A number of the findings, through a collaboration with NASA, have been catalogued in Diné Bizaad, the Navajo language. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP, File)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s newest Mars rover has completed its first sample grab, tucking away the tube of rock for return to Earth.

The Perseverance rover team confirmed last week’s successful drilling and collection, after reviewing photos of the core sample. NASA wanted to be certain the sample was safe inside the titanium tube, before sharing the news Monday.

During Perseverance’s first sampling attempt in early August, the unexpectedly soft rock crumbled. Flight controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, sought out harder rock for the second try.

Perseverance arrived in February at Mars’ Jezero Crater — a former lakebed and river delta — in search of rocks that could contain evidence of past Martian life. Future spacecraft will collect the specimens and deliver them to Earth a decade from now. The rover has more than 40 sample tubes.

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Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press