American Space agency NASA is working on a plan to conquer Mars. It wants to examine the nature of natural resources that are available on the red planet. In order to set the ball rolling, its Perseverance rover has successfully collected samples of Martian rock. These are now in airtight titanium tubes and will land up in the laboratories on Earth for detailed study.

Officials of NASA look at this as a milestone in its search for the presence of lifeforms on the planet. The thinking is that billions of years ago, the red planet might have hosted life.

Perseverance is exploring an ancient lakebed just north of the Martian equator. The rover landed on Mars in February and has been busy ever since carrying out exploration based on programs developed by scientists. The combination of robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and renewable energy pays dividends.

The soil of Mars contains a mixture of several minerals

Scientists identified the route that Perseverance had to follow. Once at the destination, the rover made use of its onboard equipment to extract samples. From external appearances, the rock resembled a remnant of lava. These are byproducts of a volcanic eruption. The rover collected two samples from the same rock on Sept. 6 and Sept. 8.

Preliminary analysis reveals these to be volcanic and could contain salts one usually associates with water.

In the words of a mission project scientist: "It looks like our first rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment." In the opinion of NASA scientists, the soil of Mars is a mixture of several minerals. These include silicon, calcium, and sulfur. The search is on to unearth possible signs of alien biology.

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Tubes will preserve the rock samples of Mars

The rover will store the rock samples in suitable containers, preferably tubes. The collection of samples will go on for the next two years. A separate Mars mission will collect them and transport them to Earth. While Perseverance was busy with rock sample collection, the Ingenuity helicopter captured views of the landscape of the red planet.

These were of sand dunes, boulders, and the rocky outcrop.

Perseverance has collected rock samples from Mars

Based on NASA's programs, its rover Perseverance has collected rock samples from Mars. Once on Earth, the analysis will establish their identities and assess their worth. NASA confirmed the capture of mineral samples from the surface of another planet. Bill Nelson, a former astronaut, hailed it as "a momentous achievement." The American space agency has its work cut out. It plans to collect such samples over a period. The area chosen is the floor of Jerezo Crater. Scientists feel water flows in this region, and there are possibilities of coming across microbial life.

Rock sample collection from Mars a $2.7 billion project

Collecting rock samples from Mars is a $2.7 billion project for Perseverance and NASA. The two space agencies of America and Europe would retrieve these in the next decade.

Once on Earth, astrobiologists will examine them for signs of fossilized organisms. The presence of such remains would be the first conclusive proof that life did exist beyond Earth. The red planet has kept the world mesmerized, and apart from NASA and ESA, there are others like China and UAE who want to leave their footprints on Mars.