Perseverance Rover Scoops Up Precious Sample From the Martian River Delta

NASA Perseverance rover collects 9th sample on Mars 6 photos
Photo: NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover via Twitter
Image shows tube in Perseverance's drill with rock samplePerseverance collects 9th sample on MarsPerseverance collects 9th sample on MarsPerseverance collects 9th sample on MarsPerseverance collects 9th sample on Mars
Since landing on Mars last year, NASA's Perseverance rover has been busy studying the complex terrain of our neighboring planet. It has drilled into different rocks and gathered several samples, growing its sample collection. Recently, the rover scooped up a special rock – one that might be sent to Earth in the future.
Perseverance has been investigating the Jezero Crater region for more than a year. Although each sample collected from the crater's floor is special, they all come from terrain that shares similar characteristics. The 9th sample that was recently scooped up by the rover comes from an area never explored before.

The delta is a collection of boulders and sedimentary rock layers that were carried by a river into a lake system close to the western edge of Jezero billions of years ago. Scientists believe that it is for ancient microbial life to remain trapped in the material that was deposited near the crater's base.

It's a great opportunity for Perseverance to collect rock samples from this region. Some of these samples will be sent back to Earth on a future Mars Sample Return Mission, allowing researchers to find more about the Red Planet's wet past.

The rover arrived at the ancient river delta back in April. Since then, it has been scouting for the ideal places to drill. The rocks that are the most well-preserved are a priority for the team. Moreover, Perseverance can only collect a finite number of samples inside its belly, so researchers have to carefully consider all the options before commanding the rover to start drilling into Martian rocks.

During the "Delta Front Campaign," which began on April 18th, the rover is expected to collect up to eight samples. It will take a few more months until Perseverance reaches the top of the delta. Then it will start its descent with the "Delta Top Campaign," which is expected to last six months. The rover will follow a different route on its way back in order to gather as many different samples as it can.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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