The US Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced on Wednesday that its rover Perseverance is preparing to collect the first sample of rocks from the surface of Mars.
The agency said that 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 take 11 days and will include the use of various scientific tools on board the “Perseverance” spacecraft, which will take the rock sample and seal it.
It is not yet planned when and how to send the probe 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 touched down on Mars at the end of 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.