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NASA's Perseverance rover getting ready to snag 2nd Mars sample

This composite of two images shows the hole drilled by NASA's Perseverance rover into a rock dubbed “Rochette” during its second sample-collection attempt. The photos were obtained by one of the rover's navigation cameras on Sept. 1, 2021.
This composite of two images shows the hole drilled by NASA's Perseverance rover into a rock dubbed “Rochette” during its second sample-collection attempt. The photos were obtained by one of the rover's navigation cameras on Sept. 1, 2021. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Perseverance rover will soon try to collect its second Mars sample.

The car-sized robot sealed up a drilled-out core of a Red Planet rock dubbed "Rochette" over the weekend, notching a huge milestone for its ambitious mission. The Perseverance team aims to replicate that success soon, putting poor Rochette to the drill again.

"I've captured my first Mars sample and I'm ready to core a second sample from this same rock. This time, I will run through the entire process of coring and sealing the tube without pausing," mission team members wrote Tuesday (Sept. 7) via Perseverance's official Twitter account.

Related: Where to find the latest Mars photos from NASA's Perseverance rover

Perseverance landed inside Mars' 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater in February to hunt for signs of past Mars life and collect and cache dozens of samples. That pristine Mars material will be hauled to Earth, perhaps as early as 2031, by a joint NASA-European Space Agency campaign.

The rover attempted to snare its first sample on Aug. 5, but the rock it drilled that day crumbled to bits that evaded their designated titanium tube. Perseverance tried again on Sept. 1 with Rochette, taking extra time to make sure that the 2.4-inch-long (6 centimeters) core was safely retained in the tube before sealing it up on Saturday (Sept. 4). 

As noted in Tuesday's tweet, this coming attempt will be a shorter, more streamlined affair, potentially helping the mission team nail down the most efficient and effective sample-collecting process for Perseverance on the Red Planet. 

We'll learn more about the rover's latest activities on Friday (Sept. 10), during a webcast briefing that begins at noon EDT (1600 GMT). You can watch it live here on Space.com when the time comes, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency.

The briefing participants are:

  • Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division at NASA headquarters in Washington
  • Jessica Samuels, Perseverance surface mission manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California
  • Matt Robinson, Perseverance strategic sampling operations team chief, JPL
  • Katie Stack Morgan, Perseverance deputy project scientist, JPL.
  • Yulia Goreva, Perseverance return sample investigation scientist, JPL
  • Meenakshi Wadhwa, Mars sample return principal scientist, JPL and Arizona State University

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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Mike Wall
SPACE.COM SENIOR SPACE WRITER — Michael has been writing for Space.com since 2010. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.