On day 37 of its Martian mission (referred to as “sol 37”), the Perseverance rover zapped a curious, holey rock with a laser 10 instances.
It wasn’t for sport. The laser is a part of the rover’s SuperCam, which looms atop the car-sized robotic like a crow’s nest on a ship. From distances of over 20 ft away, a laser strike onto rocks and soil, producing glints of sunshine. These glints are excited atoms, and the SuperCam analyzes this mild to glean if a rocky goal may need preserved previous indicators of Martian life — like sure natural supplies microbes might have as soon as munched on.
A holey, peculiar rock actually struck the Perseverance science staff as a spot of curiosity. What sort of rock is it? Why is it so holey?
“We thought we higher test it out,” Roger Wiens, a planetary scientist at Los Alamos Nationwide Laboratory who leads the staff, instructed Mashable. “We’re making an attempt to research the several types of rocks we see.”
Whereas the helicopter is preparing, I can’t assist testing close by rocks. This odd one has my science staff buying and selling a lot of hypotheses.
It’s about 6 inches (15 cm) lengthy. If you happen to look intently, you would possibly spot the row of laser marks the place I zapped it to be taught extra. pic.twitter.com/sq4ecvqsOu
— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 31, 2021
With out zooming in, it is troublesome to identify the laser marks. The road of laser marks could be seen within the crimson circle beneath:
The rover has beamed again the outcomes from the laser zapping, and Wiens stated the Perseverance staff is finding out the rock’s composition. Might or not it’s a meteorite from someplace within the photo voltaic system? Is water accountable for eroding the holey rock? Would possibly or not it’s a volcanic rock?
“The staff has formulated many various hypotheses about this one — is it one thing weathered out of the native bedrock?” NASA tweeted. “Is it a bit of Mars plopped into the world from a far-flung influence occasion? Is it a meteorite? Or one thing else?”
NASA’s Perseverance staff is not able to launch their conclusions fairly but, as they’re nonetheless discussing the probabilities. However there is definitely going to be far more rock zapping within the weeks, months, and certain years forward. Proper now, Perseverance is in the midst of its touchdown spot, the Jezero Crater, a spot NASA says was as soon as flooded with water.
Quickly, Perseverance will make a gradual, cautious journey to a big dried-up river delta, the place microbial life might have as soon as survived on Mars in moist, clay soils — if life ever existed, anyway.
“We’re about 1.5 miles away from the delta, because the Martian crow flies,” stated Wiens.