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The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced Wednesday that its rover Perseverance is preparing to collect the first rock sample from the surface of Mars.
The agency said this mission, which it described as historic, will begin within the next two weeks.
“We are on the cusp of a new era of planetary science and discovery,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
He explained that the mission will last 11 days and will involve the use of various scientific tools aboard the “Perseverance” spacecraft, which will take the rock sample and seal it.
It is not yet planned when and how the probe should be sent to Earth.
Subsequent NASA missions currently in development with the European Space Agency will send a spacecraft to Mars to collect samples and return them to Earth.
The Perseverance rover landed on Mars in late February after successfully performing a risky landing maneuver. It took NASA 8 years to develop and build the spacecraft, which cost about $2.5 billion.
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