With the discoveries made, scientists will be able to learn more about the Jezero crater and locate themselves in areas that they would like to study in greater depth.

The unpublished images of the robotic arm of Perseverance on Mars
HANDOUT AFP

On February 18, NASA’s Perseverance Rover successfully landed on the surface of Mars. The mission on the Red Planet will last 687 days and its goal is to search for signs of ancient microbial life. It will also try to collect rock and regolith samples to later send to Earth for analysis and pave the way for human exploration in the future.

As the days go by, the mission progresses and now the vehicle is beginning to study the floor of an ancient crater that once contained a lake. Thus, the Rover has been busy serving as a communications base station for the helicopter, documenting the spacecraft’s flights, and focusing its science instruments on the rocks on the floor of the Jezero crater.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS (NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS)

Rock class

Now a camera called WATSON on the end of the Rover’s robotic arm has taken detailed pictures of the rocks, while two other zoom cameras have surveyed the terrain. Also, a laser instrument called the SuperCam has hit some rocks to detect their chemistry.

Thanks to these discoveries, scientists will be able to learn more about the Jezero crater and locate themselves in areas that they would like to study in greater depth. In this sense, they intend to determine if the rocks are sedimentary or igneous since some allow to create a precise timeline of how an area was formed. 

NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS (NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS)

Erosion

But there is a factor that has complicated things: the rocks around Perseverance have been eroded by the wind over time and covered with younger sand and dust. Although the vehicle does not have a stone hammer, it has other ways of looking beyond dust and rocks. 

To determine the composition and structure of the rocks, it uses arm instruments called PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry) and SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organic and Chemicals).