Thursday, November 30, 2023

Meet the Perseverance Rover's Mars Samples: "Pilot Mountain" | NASA/JPL

Meet the Perseverance Rover's Mars Samples: "Pilot Mountain" | NASA/JPL

Meet the 21st Martian sample collected by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover—“Pilot Mountain,” a rock sample believed to be among the youngest preserved material in Jezero Crater. 

The team’s decision to sample this area was based on images taken by the Ingenuity helicopter, which showed interesting rocks scientists had not yet seen. An initial abrasion revealed green, glassy grains that represent some of the youngest material Perseverance has investigated. Comparing rocks of different ages can help shed light on the evolution of the planet.

As of early November 2023, the Perseverance rover has collected and sealed 23 scientifically selected samples inside pristine tubes as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign. The next stage is to get them to Earth for study. 

Considered one of the highest priorities by the scientists in the Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032, Mars Sample Return would be the first mission to return samples from another planet and provides the best opportunity to reveal the early evolution of Mars, including the potential for ancient life. NASA is teaming with the European Space Agency (ESA) on this important endeavor. 

A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, as well as be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Read about all the carefully selected samples:

Learn more about the Mars Sample Return campaign: 

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Duration: 1 minute, 29 seconds

Release Date: Nov. 29, 2023

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