Just last month, Perseverance went for rock samples on rocks. It seemed that Perseverance collected the rocks in the tube. However, the rocks were not spotted in the tube when it was loaded on a rocket that will send the sample back to Earth. This puzzled the scientists greatly. They were worried that the drilling system on Perseverance had suffered a malfunction and could not drill up rocks anymore. However, that worries went away as they realized that the Mars rocks are different from the one’s one Earth, and thus easily break during the process of digging through the planet.
Through this failure, though, scientists have learned a lesson; the hardest-looking rocks must be chosen in order for the rocks to survive the hard trip from Mars to Earth. That was why scientists chose a rock nicknamed “Rochette”, which survived through ages and was not eroded through winds. That fact proves that the rock is quite robust. Scientists predict that the rock is a piece of a hardened lava, which can be precisely dated. Thus, they will be able to determine how old the boulder is, and it helps speculate the age of the deeper parts of the planet.
Perseverance collected the samples from the rock a few days ago. Photos with the rock secured in the tube were taken by the rover. To secure the rocks in the tube, the rover shook the tube a few times. However, after the shakes the rock samples were seen no more. There could have been several things that happened; the rocks could have broken like it did before, or it could be a simple malfunction. Scientists are predicting that the sample is still in the tube, and it was simply issues with the angle that the photo was taken- that the angle of the light that is shining on makes it so that the rock doesn’t show. As Jennifer Trosper, the project manager for the mission, said in the news release. “We will work through this small hiccup with the lighting conditions in the images and remain encouraged that there is a sample in this tube.”