NASA: Rover collects first Mars rock sample

The US space agency NASA has announced that its Perseverance rover has successfully collected a rock sample on Mars for the first time.

Perseverance landed in February. Its main mission is to search the Jezero Crater for evidence that life has existed on the red planet. The crater is thought to have been a lake.

On September 1, the rover transferred a rock sample obtained from a drilled core into a sealed tube. The first attempt in early August failed.

The space agency says the sample is "slightly thicker than a pencil."

NASA says it will send a spacecraft to Mars in cooperation with the European Space Agency to collect the sealed sample and return it to Earth.

If the mission is achieved, it will be the first retrieval of a sample in the history of Mars exploration.