NASA has spent nine years and about $2 billion in its quest to drill and store samples of Martian rocks. The Perseverance rover was poised to finally make that happen for the first time on Friday.
The rover picked a rock in an ancient Mars lake bed that could have once held alien life, and attempted to drill. But then something strange happened: The sample seems to have vanished without a trace.
There’s a finger-sized hole in the rock where the sample should have come out, but there’s nothing in the rover’s sample-collection tube. And the rock core isn’t laying around anywhere near the hole. It’s just not there.
“While this is not the ‘hole-in-one we hoped for, there is always a risk with breaking new ground,” NASA associate administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said in a press release “I’m confident we have the right team working this, and we will persevere toward a solution to ensure future success.”
The hole Perseverance drilled into a Mars rock while trying to take its first sample, photographed August 7, 2021
To figure out what happened, NASA is instructing Perseverance to take close-up pictures of the borehole is made. Mission controllers will then try to make plans for another sampling attempt.
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