NASA confirmed Monday that its Perseverance Mars rover succeeded in collecting its first rock sample for scientists to pore over when a future mission eventually brings it back to Earth.
“I’ve got it!” the space agency tweeted, alongside a photograph of a rock core slightly thicker than a pencil inside a sample tube. NASA said the rover had “captured, sealed, and stored the first core sample ever drilled on another planet, in a quest to return samples to Earth.”
The sample was collected on September 1, but NASA was initially unsure whether the rover had successfully held onto its precious cargo, because initial images taken in poor light were unclear.
After taking a new photo so mission control could verify its contents, Perseverance transferred the tube to the rover’s interior for further measurements and imaging, then hermetically sealed the container.
“This is a momentous achievement and I can’t wait to see the incredible discoveries produced by Perseverance and our team,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science, likened the achievement to the first samples of rock taken from the Moon, which are still invaluable to researchers today.
Perseverance’s sampling and caching system is the most complex mechanism ever sent to space, with over 3,000 parts.
Its first target was a briefcase-sized rock nicknamed “Rochette” from a ridgeline that is particularly interesting from a geological perspective as it contains ancient layers of exposed bedrock.
Perseverance uses a drill and a hollow coring bit at the end of its 7-foot-long robotic arm to extract samples.
After coring the rock, the rover vibrated the drill bit and tube for one second, five separate times.
This procedure is called “percuss to ingest” and is meant to clear the lip of the tube of residual material, and cause the sample to slide down the tube.
Perseverance landed on an ancient lake bed called the Jezero Crater in February, on a mission to search for signs of ancient microbial life using a suite of sophisticated instruments mounted on its turret.
It is also trying to better characterize the Red Planet’s geology and past climate.
The first part of the rover’s science mission, which will last hundreds of sols or Martian days, will be complete when it returns to its landing site.
By then, it will have traveled somewhere between 1.6 and 3.1 miles (2.5 and five kilometers) and may have filled up to eight of its 43 sample tubes.
It will then travel to Jezero Crater’s delta region, which might be rich in clay minerals. On Earth, such minerals can preserve fossilized signs of ancient microscopic life.
The samples, sealed in 43 small titanium tubes, will be deposited on the surface for eventual retrieval by another lander later this decade and returned to Earth aboard yet another spacecraft for detailed laboratory analysis.
Since landing in Jezero Crater in February, Perseverance has traveled south of its touchdown point, recently pausing amid promising rocks known as “cratered floor fractured rough” to make its first sample collection attempt.
Nate Burleson is a co-host of “CBS Mornings,” a position he started in September 2021 joining Gayle King and Tony Dokoupil. Burleson is also an Emmy Award-winning studio analyst for the CBS Television Network’s NFL pre-game show, “The NFL Today,” and makes select appearances on Nickelodeon.
In June 2021, Burleson won the Emmy Award for outstanding sports personality/studio analyst for his work on “The NFL Today.” Prior to joining CBS News, Burleson served as a host on “Good Morning Football” on the NFL Network for five years. In a 2020 documentary for the NFL Network, Burleson shined a light on Frederick “Fritz” Pollard, the first African American to play and coach professional football. From 2019 to 2021, he was as an entertainment correspondent for “Extra” where he rostered a number of high-profile interviews including Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock, Eddie Murphy, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Senator Cory Booker, Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johansson. Burleson’s television career began in 2014 with the NFL Network after retiring from the NFL.
In addition, Burleson hosts a podcast with Uninterrupted, does voiceover work with Draft Kings, produces art, poetry, and music. He’s opened restaurants and launched a clothing label and a jewelry line.
Burleson played 11 years in the NFL as a wide receiver with the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions. In 2003, he was drafted in the third round by the Minnesota Vikings. Burleson is the only player in NFL history to have three punt returns of 90-or-more yards. Burleson was a communications major at the University of Reno, Nevada, where he was a standout player for the Wolf Pack.
A native of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Burleson resides in New Jersey with his wife, Atoya, and three children, Nathaniel, Nehemiah and Mia Pearl.
Just weeks after she gave birth abroad in 2018, Liz Knight called Army police after, she says, she was physically assaulted.
“He had put hands on me and was physical,” Knight said. “It was my breaking point. I had a 5-week-old infant. I felt like I needed to protect myself and my son.”
Military police investigated and found probable cause to charge the alleged perpetrator with assault. As is typical with the military disciplinary process, the consequences were determined by his commander, who issued a local letter of reprimand — which meant, Knight said, that it was wiped from his record the minute he left South Korea.
Knight was one of nearly 40 domestic violence survivors who reported abuse to the military whom CBS News spoke to over the course of a two-year investigation. Those service members, military spouses and partners said the system is broken and the military failed to protect them.
“The soldier is an asset. They need him. They have spent a lot of money to train him to do his job. And who am I?” said Knight. “As long as I’m removed and I’m not part of the problem, then they have their soldier.”
Roughly 100,000 incidents of domestic abuse have been reported to the military since 2015, CBS News found the military has not kept comprehensive data on the problem so it’s impossible to assess the full scope. And while the Pentagon has made combating military sexual assault a priority and formed an independent review commission to address the problem, the new investigation reveals domestic abuse is a similar crisis on the home front. Some survivors told CBS News they felt they were in more danger after they reported.
In 2019, now-retired Master Sergeant Erica Johnson told Air Force leaders she was being physically and sexually assaulted, triggering an investigation by the Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations. “There was no doubt in my mind he was gonna kill me,” Johnson said.
But the investigation “didn’t go anywhere,” she said. “They wouldn’t accept evidence from me. They didn’t use my statements. It just didn’t make any sense.”
Johnson hasn’t received a copy of the Air Force’s investigative report into her allegations, but she was told, based on the findings, the commander decided to take no action.
“I felt so betrayed by the Air Force,” she said. “It was severe betrayal.”
Army Major Leah Olszewski also reported being physically assaulted to the Air Force. “I had been strangulated. He had also threatened to break my neck, bust my front teeth out,” she said.
Olszewski, who has become a champion for survivors, told her story to Congress in 2019. She had a miscarriage that she believes was the result of domestic violence. “He kicked me in the side of the stomach. And I flew off the bed into the closet doors. And then he took the comforter, and walked off like nothing had happened.”
Olszewski said nothing has changed in the two years since she testified.
Commanders are required to tell victims about resources, send reports to law enforcement for investigation and ensure military offenders are held accountable. The military is supposed to track disciplinary actions taken by commanders in domestic violence cases. However, a report from the Government Accountability Office earlier this year revealed the Pentagon hasn’t kept comprehensive data on those numbers, even though it’s been a legal requirement since 1999.
Johnson, Olszewski and Knight’s cases did not go to a court-martial. They now fear their alleged abusers could harm someone else.
“If it’s not someone in the military, a spouse, it’s gonna be somebody in the community,” Olszewski said.
Johnson said, “The next person, he’s gonna kill. There’s no doubt in my mind. And he knows how to get away with it. He’s told me as much.”
In June, the Pentagon’s independent commission charged with examining sexual assault in the military recommended moving decisions to prosecute both sexual assault and domestic violence cases to an independent body outside the chain of command. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin agreed: “I support this as well, given the strong correlation between these sorts of crimes and the prevalence of sexual assault.”
Many of the survivors told us they felt they were in more danger after they reported abuse.
A senior defense official told CBS News the Pentagon is making sure they “get after these problems,” calling the situation “heartbreaking” and “maddening.”
“Our people and our readiness are inextricably linked. These crimes endanger both,” said Austin in a statement to CBS News. “We find that unacceptable, and we aren’t afraid to change what we do, how we prosecute and how we better prevent them.”
In a statement to CBS News, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wrote:
Sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence continue to plague our ranks. These crimes have profoundly damaging, and sometimes lethal consequences for service members and our families, and fundamentally impact our combat readiness. While I cannot comment on individual cases, I take these issues, and the impact on the men and women of the services, and their families, with the utmost seriousness. One of my early actions as Secretary of Defense was the establishment of an Independent Review Commission on sexual assault and harassment in the military. In July this year, the Commission made 82 recommendations addressing accountability; prevention; climate and culture; and victim care and support. So here’s what we’re doing. First and foremost, we are working closely with Congress on legislative proposals to remove decisions about whether to prosecute sexual assaults and related crimes-including domestic violence-from the military chain of command. Second, the Department will create dedicated offices within each service to handle these specific crimes. Third, we have asked Congress to formally add sexual harassment as an offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Finally, my team and I are reviewing an implementation roadmap for the many other thoughtful recommendations included in the IRC’s report.
Taken together, these are among the most significant reforms to our military in decades. Additionally, I have directed immediate steps across the Department to understand what is happening at the installation and unit level. We are assessing compliance with sexual assault and harassment policies and visiting bases around the world that are either showing promise to identify solutions or illuminate bright spots and export best practices. We continue to focus intensively on increasing prevention efforts, training, and streamlining and improving accountability mechanisms. And as always, we continue to focus on the care and support we offer victims. The women and men of our armed forces dedicate their lives to defending our nation, and deserve a workplace and home free of sexual assault, sexual harassment and domestic violence.
President Biden has placed an unprecedented priority on tackling this problem, and we’ve moved out quickly and deliberately to address it. I believe that bold action, commitment, and accountability are required, and that is exactly what we have, and will continue, to do. This is not a short-term problem and will not be solved by short-term strategies. It requires sustained action and commitment at the highest level of the Department of Defense – every commander, civilian leader, and member of the force must be a necessary part of the solution. Our people and our readiness are inextricably linked. These crimes endanger both. We find that unacceptable, and we aren’t afraid to change what we do, how we prosecute and how we better prevent them. This is a leadership issue, and we will lead.