UNITED STATES: NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has begun investigating Yori Pass, a region rich in sediments close to the base of the ancient river delta in Jezero Crater.
The mission’s science team has exciting opportunities in this area because a rock that the six-wheeled rover sampled in July was seen here.
According to Katie Stack Morgan, the Perseverance deputy project scientist at the Southern California Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, “The Yori Pass outcrop is particularly intriguing because it is laterally equivalent to Hogwallow Flats, where we discovered extremely fine-grained sedimentary rocks.”
“This indicates that the rock bed has a sizable, traceable footprint visible on the surface and is situated at the same elevation as Hogwallow, “ she added.
The Perseverance rover will go 745 feet (227 metres) southeast to a giant sand ripple after taking a sample from Yori Pass.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (built and oversaw the operations of the Perseverance rover) in Southern California says that the rover will gather its first samples of regolith, or crushed rock and dust at the ripple. The science team has dubbed it “Observation Mountain,” in the middle of a small dune field.
As part of the Mars Sample Return campaign, NASA’s Perseverance has so far collected 14 rock-core samples, one atmospheric sample, and three witness tubes. All of these samples are stored in the rover’s belly and will be sent back to Earth for additional analysis.
The fine-grained sedimentary rocks of the ancient river delta, which were cored, are most likely to carry evidence of whether microbial life existed when the temperature of the Red Planet was very different from what it is today.
Recently, the NASA Perseverance rover on Mars obtained its 14th sample of rock through drilling. But the rover’s sampling mechanism was malfunctioning since it hasn’t been able to cap and seal the sample tube.