NASA’s Mars rover fails to collect rocks in search of alien life

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NASA’s Perseverance drilled into the surface of Mars but failed in its initial attempt to collect rock samples that would be recovered by future missions for analysis by scientists on Earth.

The US space agency on Friday released images of a small mound with a hole in its center next to the rover – the first ever dug into the Red Planet by a robot.

But data sent to Earth by the rover after its first attempt to take a sample and seal it in a tube indicated that no rocks had been collected.

“While this is not the ‘hole in one’ we were hoping for, there is always risk to innovate,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the science missions directorate at NASA, in a statement.

“I am confident that we have the right team to work on this, and we will push for a solution to ensure future success.”

The borehole is the first step in a sampling process that is expected to take around 11 days, with the goal of looking for signs of ancient microbial life that may have been preserved in ancient deposits on the lake bed.

Scientists also hope to gain a better understanding of Martian geology.

The mission took off from Florida just over a year ago and Perseverance, which is the size of a large family car, landed on February 18 in Jezero Crater.

Scientists believe the crater contained a deep lake 3.5 billion years ago, where conditions could have favored alien life.

NASA is planning a mission to bring back to Earth around 30 samples in the 2030s, which will be analyzed by much more sophisticated instruments than those that can be brought back to Mars today.

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