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A rock inside of one of Perseverance's sampling tubes. Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

NASA's Perseverance rover collected its first sample of a rock on Mars.

Why it matters: This sample and others in the future are expected to help scientists figure out whether the Red Planet once played host to life in its habitable environments billions of years ago.

Driving the news: Perseverance successfully collected the rock sample last week, beaming images back to mission controllers on Earth showing its sample tube full of material.

  • The rover's first sampling attempt in early August ended in failure when the rock it was working with crumbled as Perseverance tried to collect its sample.
  • NASA then instituted new protocols like scraping away a bit of the rock to see how it stands up to make sure the rover didn't fail at another collection attempt.
  • "The team determined a location, and selected and cored a viable and scientifically valuable rock. We did what we came to do," Jennifer Trosper, project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in a statement.

What's next: Perseverance will now store the sealed tube holding the rock sample ahead of a future return to Earth with another mission.

  • By returning samples to scientists, researchers will be able to use high-powered tools on the planet that are far better than any analytical instruments they can send to space aboard a rover or lander.

Go deeper: The golden age of space-sample returns

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Oct 5, 2021 - Science

The winds within Jupiter's Great Red Spot are gaining speed

The Great Red Spot seen by the Hubble Space Telescope. Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI

The winds of one of the most recognizable storms in the solar system — Jupiter's Great Red Spot — are speeding up.

Why it matters: This weather report for another world is possible because the Hubble Space Telescope has been keeping a close eye on the storm for more than 10 years.

Obama says Powell exemplified what America "can and should be"

Then-President Obama speaks alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell (left) during a meeting in the Oval Office in 2010. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Obama called Colin Powell an "exemplary soldier and an exemplary patriot" in a statement honoring the former general following his death from COVID complications on Monday.

Why it matters: Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state, was known as a Republican but played a critical role in helping Obama get elected in 2008.

Justice Department asks Supreme Court to block Texas abortion ban

Abortion rights activists rally at the Texas State Capitol on Sept. 11 in Austin, Texas. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar/Getty Images

The Justice Department on Monday asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block Texas' near-total ban on abortions while federal courts consider its constitutionality.

The big picture: The court last month allowed the ban to take effect, rejecting an emergency application by abortion-rights groups. The law bars the procedure after cardiac activity is detected, as early as six weeks into pregnancy.