NASA’s Mars rover has reached a major mission milestone.
perseverance You have safely reached the ancient Red Planet River Delta remnants on the floor of the 28-mile (45-kilometre) wide Jezero Crater, NASA announced today (April 19).
Expedition team members said the delta would be a “real geological feast” for the perseverance, which is looking for fossilized signs. Mars life. (The promising rocks will be cached for a sample return mission campaign that NASA and its European counterpart intend to launch later this decade.)
Ken Farley, a perseverance project scientist at Caltech, said in a statement statment Wednesday (April 19) from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which runs the Perseverance mission.
Now that the rover is in the area, Farley added, her next moves will be to “obtain images in greater detail that reveal the best places to explore these important rocks.”
Related: 12 stunning photos from the first year of the Perseverance rover on Mars
Perseverance landed in February 2021 inside the Jezero Crater, which expedition scientists said hosted a lake and river delta billions of years ago. Such conditions must be amenable to microbes, which means that the delta region is a rich region to look for signs Mars life (if any).
The craft was operating somewhat south and west of its landing site during its first year (on Earth) Mars But he recently returned through the landing zone to reach Delta. Perseverance will be spending the next week driving southwest and west to see how best to explore this stretch of delta.
Perseverance data indicates that the delta deposits lie about 130 feet (40 meters) above the crater floor, and teams are considering two options, according to a JPL statement. The preferred path, at least for the time being, is through an area called the “hawk’s beak gap”, as it appears to be more accessible in a shorter time. But a backup option, Cape Nokshak, is available should the data in the coming days show it to be a safer route.
“Whichever path Perseverance takes to the plateau above the delta, the team will conduct detailed scientific investigations, including sampling of core rocks, en route, then turn around and do the same on the way back down,” JPL officials at JPL said. Statement.
The rover will spend nearly six months picking up eight samples during this maneuvering campaign, called Delta Front. The plan then calls for perseverance to go to the top of the delta again, and perhaps make the backup option to sample an area that has not been crossed before, to spend another six months on the “Delta Top Campaign”.
“Deltas are the reason we send perseverance to Jezero Crater: They have many interesting features,” Farley said. “We will look for signs of ancient life in the rocks at the base of the delta, the rocks we believe were once mud at the bottom of Lake Jezero.
Perseverance will also attempt to pick up sand and rock fragments emerging from the top of the stream, in areas the rover is not expected to visit during its lifetime on Mars. Geography would be a huge help, Farley said: “We can take advantage of the ancient Martian river that brought us the geological secrets of the planet.”
JPL officials added that Perseverance began its second science expedition a month earlier than expected, due to its independent hazard detection system that allows it to dodge obstacles in the Jezero Crater such as boulders, sharp boulders, pits and sandpits. (The probe was ordered to stop and turn 55 times to avoid hazards during this last land flight, JPL added.)
By contrast, NASA’s decade-old Curiosity Mars spacecraft had to do just that back recently From the striped path due to the dangerous terrain “Crocodile Return”. Curiosity also has an older version of the Mars wheel that’s less optimized for sometimes treacherous terrain, compared to Perseverance. JPL Officials Say That the Percy wheels have twice the number of surfaces and a gentle curve, which is more adaptable to the terrain.
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