NASA’s Perseverance Rover has been on Mars for over 250 days. It has found layers of Mars rock.
The rover, which departed Earth on February 18, is currently looking at a section of the Jezero Crater thought to have formed from the presence water.
“Layed rocks like this often form within water, and can hold clues as to what their environment was like,” the space agency wrote on twitter.
Perseverance will take out its abrading tool — used to cut rocks — to go in for a closer inspection.
NASA’s Perseverance rover, which has been on Mars for close to 250 days, has found layers of Mars rocks
Perseverance will take out its abrading tool (seen in the shadow) — used to cut rocks — to go in for a closer inspection
The agency said that the abrading tool will chip the rock away to reveal the underside. The rover will then remove the dust to determine if it is suitable for sampling.
Perseverance is currently exploring Jezero Crater. This area was once filled with water. NASA will be navigating the spacecraft around the area in search of fossilized signs that ancient life existed.
Perseverance gathered its first rock sample from Mars on September 5. However, scientists weren’t sure if it had done so because of the lack of sunlight on the Red Planet.
After an unsuccessful August attempt, Perseverance has already collected 2 rock samples.
Perseverance helped to scrape a rock named “Rochelle” using a robotic arm and a tool to collect the sample.
A few days later, the rover collected its second rock sample in its mission to find signs of ancient microbial life on Mars.
It attempted to obtain a sample of rock in August but it failed because the rock was too soft and powdery.
The rover drove half an mile to reach a better sampling spot so that he could try again.
Perseverance is currently exploring Jezero Crater. This area was once filled with water. NASA will be navigating the spacecraft around the area in search of fossilized signs and evidence of ancient life.
Perseverance touched down on Mars’ Jezero Crater – believed to be the home of a lush lakebed and river delta billions of years ago – on February 18 after a nearly seven-month journey through space.
The rover is equipped with 43 titanium sample tubes and is currently exploring Jezero Crater. There, it will be collecting samples of rock, soil, and other materials for analysis on Earth.
Perseverance is needed to search for fossilized microbial lives from Mars’ ancient past and collect rock specimens to return to Earth via future missions to the Red Planet.
The turret-mounted scientific instrument on the rover is able to determine chemical composition and look out for organic matter. It also helps to better understand the planet’s geological process.
It uses a drill to extract samples slightly thicker that a pencil. The robotic arm is 7 feet long (2 meters) and has a hollow coring bit.
NASA plans to send around 30 samples back to Earth by 2030. This will allow scientists to perform more detailed analysis and confirm that there is microbial activity.
However, Perseverance itself is not bringing the samples back to Earth – when the rover reaches a suitable location, the tubes will dropped on the surface of Mars to be collected by a future retrieval mission, which is currently being developed.
Once Perseverance has collected samples from Mars, it will drop them in a suitable spot on Mars for future retrieval missions.
The multi-billion dollar mission to bring back a part of Mars to Earth requires three separate launches. It would only be possible to succeed in 2031. Perseverance, NASA’s new exploration vehicle, will launch this summer.
NASA and ESA currently plan to launch two spacecraft more that will leave Earth in 2026 and reach Mars by 2028.
The first will deploy a small rover, which will make its way to Perseverance, pick up the filled sampling tubes and transfer them to a ‘Mars ascent vehicle’ – a small rocket.
This rocket will blast off – in the process becoming the first object launched from the surface of Mars – and place the container into Martian orbit, meaning it will essentially be floating in space
The third and final spacecraft in the complicated operation will now maneuver next to the sample container, grab it, and fly it back to Earth.
If its re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere succeeds, it will plummet down to the ground at a Utah military training ground in 2031. The Martian samples won’t even be studied for another ten years.