NASA’s Perseverance Rover Collects First Mars Rock Sample

This sealed titanium sample tube contains Perseverance’s first cored sample of Mars rock. The rover’s Sampling and Caching System Camera (known as CacheCam) captured this image. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Perseverance rover today completed the collection of the first sample of Martian rock, a core from Jezero Crater slightly thicker than a pencil. Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California received data that confirmed the historic milestone.

The core is now enclosed in an airtight titanium sample tube, making it available for retrieval in the future. Through the Mars Sample Return campaign, NASA and ESA (European Space Agency) are planning a series of future missions to return the rover’s sample tubes to Earth for closer study. These samples would be the first set of scientifically identified and selected materials returned to our planet from another.  

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JPL Director Michael Watkins to Return to Academia

Michael Watkins (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

After having served five years as director of JPL, Michael Watkins will move to the Caltech campus as professor of aerospace and geophysics. Larry D. James becomes interim director of JPL.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — JPL Director Michael Watkins announced Monday he will step down from his position as the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to resume his academic and research career at Caltech as professor of aerospace and geophysics. His last day as JPL director will be Aug. 20. JPL is a federally funded research and development center managed by Caltech for NASA.

“There is no place in the world like JPL. It has truly been the great joy of my life to dedicate almost three decades to JPL, and to spend the last five years leading the Lab is the highest honor,” Watkins said in his announcement Monday to JPL’s 6,000 employees. “I treasure above all my interactions with the incredible people who make JPL what it is and who dedicate lifetimes to mission success after mission success.”

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