NASA’s Perseverance rover is searching for interesting Martian rocks


NASA's Perseverance rover is searching for the Mars Curiosity Bedrock

This image of “Yori Pass” was captured by the Hazcam imager aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover on November 5, 2022. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Mars Orbiter has begun exploring an area the science team calls “Yuri Corridor” near the base of the ancient Jezero Crater River Delta. They had been excited to explore the area for several months after discovering a rock similar to the Perseverance samples collected in July.

This feature is very puzzling to scientists because it is Sandstone, which are fine grains that have been transported from another place by water before they are deposited and stone is formed. The Perseverance samples are key to the first step in NASA and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars sample-return campaign, which began when the rover cached its first drilled rock in September 2021.

“We often prioritize studying fine-grained sedimentary rocks like these in our search for organics and potential biosignatures,” said Katie Stack Morgan, deputy project scientist for Perseverance at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “What’s particularly interesting about the outcrop of Yori Pass is that it’s laterally equivalent to the ‘Hogwallow Flats,’ where we found fine-grained sedimentary rock. This means that the bedrock is about the same height as Hogwallow, and has a large, visible footprint at the surface.”

This short animation shows key moments of NASA and the European Space Agency’s Mars Sample Return campaign, from landing on Mars and securing the sample tubes to releasing them from the surface and transporting them back to Earth. Credit: NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/MSFC

Searching Jezero Crater for biosignatures (any characteristic, element, molecule, substance, or feature that could serve as evidence of ancient life) is one of the four scientific goals of the Perseverance Crater. Along with 14 rock core samples, the rover collected one atmospheric sample and three witness tubes, all of which are stored in the rover’s belly.

After you collect a sample from Yori Pass, you’ll drive Perseverance 745 feet (227 meters) southeast to a huge sandy ripple. The spike sits in the middle of a small field of sand dunes, which the science team dubs “Monitoring Mountain,” and will be where the probe collects its first samples of regolith, or crushed rock and dust.

the quote: NASA Perseverance Investigates Intriguing Martian Rocks (2022, November 17) Retrieved November 17, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-11-nasa-perseverance-rover-intriguing-martian.html

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