The ancient river helps NASA’s persistent Mars rover do its job

Now in its third science campaign, Perseverance is exploring the top of a fan-shaped pile of sedimentary rock 130 feet (40 meters) high. With the model sealed and stored in its belly, the rover will travel to a low ridge called „Snowdrift Peak”. To get there, one has to cross a rocky field.

Like the rock fragments in the Otis Peak sample, scientists believe the boulders may have formed somewhere else and were transported to their current location by an ancient river billions of years ago. Boulders are also desirable because their large surface area allows scientists to visually examine many different rocks in a single image. So the team will keep their options open, willing to stop at anything that piques their interest.

„It remains to be seen if the rocks look puzzling enough for closer examination and potential samples — really,” Farley said. „We’re taking a page from the past. Prospectors looking for gold or diamonds in the old days often looked to rivers to determine if there were any deposits of interest. There’s no need to hike up there to look – let the river do the work!”

More about the mission

A key objective for the mission of Perseverance on Mars Astrophysics, including caching samples that contain signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will be the first mission to characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and collect and store Martian rock and regolith.

Subsequent NASA missions, in collaboration with ESA, will send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

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The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon-to-Mars exploratory approach, which includes Artemis Missions to the Moon will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by Caltech for the agency, develops and manages operations for the Perseverance rover.

Learn more about perseverance:

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

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