The Perseverance Rover will collect rock samples and search for signs of ancient microbial life on the surface of Mars, giving scientists a first-of-its-kind insight into our planetary neighbor to better predict the Earth’s distant future.
“Bringing back samples to be analyzed in Earth-based laboratories is crucial for our understanding of planetary processes that have shaped our corner of the universe,” says planetary scientist Juliane Gross from Rutgers University. “It’s something that the entire Mars exploration community is really excited about and looking forward to,” adds David Spencer, the Mars Sample Return campaign mission manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
In the first of the Mars Sample Return four-part mission, the Rover will fill 38 glass tubes with rock samples from Mars’ surface over a Martian year – or 687 Earth days. Two other rocket launches from Earth are planned for 2026 and 2031, and one rocket launch from Mars is also in the works – which would make it the first such launch from another planet.