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.
Rock sample #9 is in the bag! (Well, in the tube, anyway.)— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) July 7, 2022
My team has waited years to get up close to this river delta and see what it might say about past life on Mars. This sample may well get a one-way ticket back to Earth in the future! #SamplingMars pic.twitter.com/GCQ51UzUtg