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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Perseverance rover is seen at work in these pictures from Mars

NASA released a photo taken by Perseverance’s navigation cameras during the rover’s longest autonomous drive to date, as well as an enhanced-color panorama taken by the Mastcam-Z camera system on the rover’s mast, a shot of the crater’s “Delta Scarp” taken by Perseverance’s Remote Microscopic Imager (RMI) camera, and a close-up of a rock target nicknamed “Foux” taken by

When SuperCam lead investigator Roger Wiens received Mastcam-Z pictures of the scarp and SuperCam RMI images to give a more comprehensive look of the scarp, he stated the photographs revealed that there had been a huge flash flooding event that occurred, sweeping rocks down into the delta formation.

According to Wiens of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, “these huge stones are about halfway down the delta formation.” – “This is where you would find them if the lakebed was completely filled. As a result, the lake was not completely filled at the time of the flash flood. In general, it may be a sign of an unstable environment in the near future. Perhaps we didn’t always have the kind of peaceful, quiet, livable environment that we would have preferred for growing certain microorganisms when we wanted them to.”

On the crater floor, where there was once a lake, scientists working on Perseverance have discovered igneous rock that originated from magma or lava that occurred during the same time period, indicating the existence of not just flowing water but also flowing lava.

Those findings have led the researchers in their broader astrobiological goal as well as in their job of collecting samples of Martian rock and regolith for further study and analysis.

Using WATSON, which is located at the end of Percy’s robotic arm, scientists have been able to snap very close pictures of their targets, assist engineers in placing the rover’s drill for collecting rock core samples, and generate photographs of the location where the sample was obtained. It’s also been known to snap selfies.

As part of the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) and PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry) instruments from Perseverance, WATSON has assisted in the discovery of evidence for that igneous rock on the crater floor.

A Boyle
I cover Science related topics for The National Era
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