The search for signs of ancient Martian life has begun! Perseverance is getting ready to collect its first-ever sample of Martian rock, which future planned missions will transport to Earth. The six-wheeled astrobiologist and geologist is searching for a scientifically interesting target in a part of Jezero Crater called the “Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.”
This important mission milestone is expected to begin within the next two weeks. Perseverance landed on Mars Feb. 18, and the rover is now exploring a 1.5-square-mile patch of crater floor that may contain Jezero Crater’s deepest and most ancient layers of exposed bedrock.
Perseverance is the first step in our Mars Sample Return campaign. Subsequent missions, now in development in cooperation with ESA (the European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.