- NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover sets its sights on Enchanted Lake.
- The team is carrying out exploration and is preparing to return to a spot, Enchanted Lake.
The Perseverance Mars rover of NASA is setting back to an enchanting outcrop of sedimentary rocks the spacecraft first visited in April.
The Perseverance rover team has recently been exploring and sampling at “Wildcat Ridge” within Jezero crater but is now preparing to return to a spot nicknamed “Enchanted Lake.”
This outcrop formed into thin layers of Martian rock over time as mud, sand and slit in Jerezo Crater solidified. It is of high interest to the Perseverance team, who assess that the formation could be one of the best opportunities of the mission to collect rocks that could contain remnants of any ancient microbial life that might once have existed on Mars.
At the beginning of September, Perseverance is anticipated to arrive back at the fan-shaped rocks informally named after a landmark in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve. By that time, the rover team hopes to have wrapped up work checking to make sure the sampling system of Perseverance is clear of any debris.
Any determination of what Perseverance sights in the rock will have to wait until the samples are delivered to Earth for examination in the early 2030s by the sample return campaign of NASA-ESA Mars.
Meanwhile, sampling on Mars has also thrown up an issue recently, and the team wants to understand the situation before setting off on its travels to Enchanted Lake.
In recent weeks, Perseverance has collected four sets of samples. But on 3rd Aug, the last coring activity led to the discovery of debris in the sampling system that mission personnel feared could have interfered with future operations.
Lee noted that the team of Perseverance has conducted diagnostic activities and commanded the rover to move, vibrate or rotate components to help assess the situation and are confident that sampling can move forward without issue.
The first eight samples collected by Perseverance were taken from rock created through volcanic activity, while the latest batch were all taken from sedimentary rocks. The new sedimentary trend will keep going with the collection of material from Enchanted Lake.
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