Perseverance rover scratches Martian rock to “look at something no one has ever seen”
The solar conjunction – a period when the sun is between Earth and Mars – began on October 2, which cut off NASA’s communications with the rover. This blackout ended on October 19, and Perseverance immediately resumed searching for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.
Since October 25, Perseverance has been investigating certain rock outcrops in the southern Séítah region of the planet, which are of interest to the rover’s science team on Earth. The rover has an abrasive tool on its robotic arm that can scrape rock layers to peek inside those rocks.
“Layered rocks like this often form in water and can hold clues to their surroundings. Let’s see if this would be another good place for #SamplingMars,” read a post from the rover’s Facebook account, managed by NASA, Nov. 4.
After chipping through the rocks, the rover sent back images to show what lay beneath the rusty-looking top layer: what appears to be a multitude of minerals and grainy sediment.
“Look inside to look at something no one has ever seen. I abraded a small portion of this rock to remove the surface layer and peek underneath. Focus on my next target. for #SamplingMars, ”posted the Perseverance Facebook account on Nov. 9.
The mineral content of the rocks at Jezero Crater, which was once the site of a lake 3.7 billion years ago, acts as an ancient, untouched time capsule. They can tell scientists how rocks formed and what the climate was like at the time. It could give a big picture of what the lake and its delta looked like when the planet was warmer and wetter – and potentially habitable.
Looks like Perseverance is preparing to collect a sample of the abraded rock to see what Martian secrets South Séítah might reveal.
“Perseverance and his team have come a long way in the past 8 months of operation on the surface of Mars,” wrote David Pedersen, co-investigator of the rover’s PIXL instrument at the Technical University of Denmark, in a recent Perseverance blog post. “Now, it’s part of the normal mission routine for the rover to collect rock samples and perform proximity science using the instruments mounted on the turret that sits at the end of the arm / robotic manipulator. “