But unlike the 15 rock samples collected to date, these new samples were taken from a pile of wind-blown sand and dust.
Scientists want to study Martian samples using laboratory equipment on Earth to look for signs of ancient microbial life.
Most of the samples will be made up of rocks, but the researchers also want to study regolith because it will help not only study the geological processes and environment on Mars, but also avoid some of the difficulties that astronauts will face on the Red Planet.
Regolith can affect everything from spacesuits to solar panels, which is why it is of interest to both engineers and scientists.
To collect regolith samples, the Perseverance team used a spike-like drill with small holes to collect loose material.
Engineers have developed a special drill after rigorous testing with imitation regolith made from crushed volcanic rock.
Studying regolith could help engineers design future missions to Mars and develop equipment for astronauts. Regolith can damage spacecraft and scientific instruments.
Regolith grains can also cause problems for astronauts: Lunar regolith has been found to be sharp enough to make microscopic holes in space suits.
Regolith can be used to protect astronauts from radiation, but it’s also risky: the surface of Mars contains perchlorate, a toxic chemical that can threaten the health of astronauts if accidentally inhaled or swallowed.
In addition to answering questions about health and safety hazards, a test tube of Martian regolith could inspire scientific inquiry.
Looking at it under a microscope, one could see a kaleidoscope of grains of different shapes and colors, joined together by wind and water over billions of years.
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