NASA confirms that its Perseverance Mars rover has successfully retrieved its first rock drill sample for return to Earth.

The image taken by the Mastcam-Z camera on September 1 shows a drill bit holding a pencil-thick core in the sample tube. The bronze-colored outer-ring is the coring bit. The rock core sits in the lighter-colored inner-ring that is the open end of the sample tube. The rover uses a rotary-percussive drill and a hollow coring bit at the end of its 7 ft long robotic arm to extract samples.

Additional images taken after the arm completed sample acquisition were inconclusive due to poor sunlight conditions, but more images with better lighting will be taken before the sample processing continues.

The Perseverance Mars mission will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate in preparation for human exploration. The venture is the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.

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