Rock Sampled by NASA’s Perseverance Embodies Why Rover Came to Mars – NASA Mars Exploration

The twenty fourth pattern taken by the six-wheeled scientist gives new clues about Jezero Crater and the lake it might have as soon as held.

Evaluation by devices aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover point out that the newest rock core taken by the rover was awash in water for an prolonged time frame within the distant previous, maybe as a part of an historical Martian seashore. Collected on March 11, the pattern is the rover’s twenty fourth – a tally that features 21 pattern tubes crammed with rock cores, two crammed with regolith (damaged rock and dirt), and one with Martian ambiance.

“To place it merely, that is the sort of rock we had hoped to search out after we determined to analyze Jezero Crater,” mentioned Ken Farley, undertaking scientist for Perseverance at Caltech in Pasadena, California. “Practically all of the minerals within the rock we simply sampled had been made in water; on Earth, water-deposited minerals are sometimes good at trapping and preserving historical natural materials and biosignatures. The rock may even inform us about Mars local weather circumstances that had been current when it was shaped.”

The presence of those particular minerals is taken into account promising for preserving a wealthy report of an historical liveable atmosphere on Mars. Such collections of minerals are essential for guiding scientists to probably the most helpful samples for eventual return to Earth with the Mars Pattern Return marketing campaign.

Meet the Mars Samples: Comet Geyser (Pattern 24): Meet the twenty fourth Martian pattern collected by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover – “Comet Geyser,” a pattern taken from a area of Jezero Crater that’s particularly wealthy in carbonate, a mineral linked to habitability. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Obtain video ›

Fringe of the Crater’s Rim

Nicknamed “Bunsen Peak” for the Yellowstone Nationwide Park landmark, the rock – about 5.6 toes broad and three.3 toes excessive (1.7 meters by 1 meter) – intrigued Perseverance scientists as a result of the outcrop stands tall amid the encompassing terrain and has an attention-grabbing texture on one in every of its faces. They had been additionally concerned with Bunsen Peak’s vertical rockface, which gives a pleasant cross-section of the rock and, as a result of it’s not flat-lying, is much less dusty and subsequently simpler for science devices to analyze.

Earlier than taking the pattern, Perseverance scanned the rock utilizing the rover’s SuperCam spectrometers and the X-ray spectrometer PIXL, quick for Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry. Then the rover used the rotor on the top of its robotic arm to grind (or abrade) a portion of the floor and scanned the rock once more. The outcomes: Bunsen Peak seems to be composed of about 75% carbonate grains cemented collectively by virtually pure silica.

Perseverance's View of 'Bunsen Peak'

Perseverance’s View of ‘Bunsen Peak’: This mosaic exhibits a rock referred to as “Bunsen Peak” the place NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover extracted its twenty first rock core and abraded a round patch to analyze the rock’s composition. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS. Obtain picture ›

“The silica and elements of the carbonate seem microcrystalline, which makes them extraordinarily good at trapping and preserving indicators of microbial life that may have as soon as lived on this atmosphere,” mentioned Sandra Siljeström, a Perseverance scientist from the Analysis Institutes of Sweden (RISE) in Stockholm. “That makes this pattern nice for biosignature research if returned to Earth. Moreover, the pattern may be one of many older cores collected up to now by Perseverance, and that’s essential as a result of Mars was at its most liveable early in its historical past.” A possible biosignature is a substance or construction that may very well be proof of previous life however might also have been produced with out the presence of life.

Perseverance's 'Bunsen Peak' Sample

Perseverance’s ‘Bunsen Peak’ Pattern: Perseverance’s CacheCam captured this picture of the rover’s newest cored pattern – taken from an intriguing rock referred to as “Bunsen Peak” – on March 11. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Obtain picture ›

The Bunsen Peak pattern is the third that Perseverance has collected whereas exploring the “Margin Unit,” a geologic space that hugs the internal fringe of Jezero Crater’s rim.

“We’re nonetheless exploring the margin and gathering information, however outcomes up to now could assist our speculation that the rocks right here shaped alongside the shores of an historical lake,” mentioned Briony Horgan, a Perseverance scientist from Purdue College, in West Lafayette, Indiana. “The science staff can also be contemplating different concepts for the origin of the Margin Unit, as there are different methods to type carbonate and silica. However irrespective of how this rock shaped, it’s actually thrilling to get a pattern.”

The rover is working its method towards the westernmost portion of the Margin Unit. On the base of Jezero Crater’s rim, a location nicknamed “Vivid Angel” is of curiosity to the science staff as a result of it might provide the primary encounter with the a lot older rocks that make up the crater rim. As soon as it’s performed exploring Vivid Angel, Perseverance will start an ascent of a number of months to the rim’s prime.

Extra Concerning the Mission

A key goal for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, together with caching samples that will include indicators of historical microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and previous local weather, pave the way in which for human exploration of the Crimson Planet, and be the primary mission to gather and cache Martian rock and regolith.

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European House Company), would ship spacecraft to Mars to gather these sealed samples from the floor and return them to Earth for in-depth evaluation.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is a part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration strategy, which incorporates Artemis missions to the Moon that can assist put together for human exploration of the Crimson Planet.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for the company by Caltech, constructed and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For extra about Perseverance:

Information Media Contacts

DC Agle

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.


Karen Fox / Charles Blue

NASA Headquarters, Washington

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