America is the leading player in the field of Space research related to Mars. Its space agency, NASA, has multiple robots on the red planet to gather data. One of these is the Perseverance rover, and it collected another rock sample from the Red Planet.

The sample is loaded with the mineral olivine. All these operations are remote-controlled and depend heavily on a combination of Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and renewable energy. This is because the robots are millions of miles away and operate as per the predefined programs.

Curiosity was the first robot of NASA on Mars.

It has been giving service since August 2012. Then came InSight in 2018 to explore the interior of the planet. After that, Perseverance entered the scene in February 2021 along with Ingenuity, the helicopter. It was the first time a helicopter took off from another planet and landed back safely.

The latest sample will remain on the Red Planet for collection by a future mission and return to Earth for analysis. Perseverance landed on the alien surface in February and is busy with sample collection. There are provisions for 43 titanium tubes on the rover. It makes use of these tubes to store the samples. In December 2020, a news report said NASA and ESA would join hands in the Mars Sample Return program.

Signs of 'life' possible in the Jezero crater on Mars

Perseverance rover is at present in the Jezero crater. NASA selected this area of Mars because it has telltale signs of a lake and river delta. Hence, it appeared to be an ideal place to set in motion the exercise to search for signs of "life." The primary mission of the rover is to scout around for signs of lifeforms.

These could broadly be evidence of microbial life. Perseverance has already collected its first two samples. That was in September. Another sample crumbled and was unsuitable. The latest sample is from a region that has many-layered rocks. In the opinion of the JPL team, such a rock formation could indicate that water once flowed there.

Incidentally, the Zhurong rover of China is also on Mars, probably on missions similar to those of NASA. China is a late entrant in space-related activities and sprang a surprise on the world by sending a rover on the far side of the Moon. It wanted to explore the unseen part of the Moon for the presence of helpful material.

NASA plans to bring back some samples to Earth by 2030

To analyze the rock samples, NASA has to bring them back to Earth. Only then will scientists be in a position to carry out the detailed study. The purpose would be to confirm the presence of some form of microbial life.

When Perseverance reaches a suitable location, the tubes containing the pieces will drop on the surface of the red planet.

A future retrieval mission would arrange to collect them. NASA and ESA would be involved in this mission.

Ingenuity helicopter on Mars plays an important role

NASA's Perseverance rover had brought with it a helicopter. Its name is Ingenuity, and it proved its worth by conducting an aerial survey of its surroundings. This is the first time a helicopter took off from an alien surface like Mars and came back to base. After a successful technology-demonstrating mission, it is now conducting scouting work for Perseverance. That way, it can identify the rugged regions, and the rover can take suitable evasive action to ensure its safety.