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NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover Takes First Core From the Jezero Delta

The Perseverance rover has taken its first sample from the Jezero delta on Mars.

NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion."” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA’s MarsMars is the second smallest planet in our solar system and the fourth planet from the sun. It is a dusty, cold, desert world with a very thin atmosphere. Iron oxide is prevalent in Mars' surface resulting in its reddish color and its nickname "The Red Planet." Mars' name comes from the Roman god of war.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>Mars Perseverance Rover has taken its first sample from the Jezero delta!

Since arriving at the delta, “Percy” has been observing and abrading different rocks to investigate whether they are a good candidate for our first core sample in this area. It wasn’t an easy start, as the first few rocks that were assessed either fractured too easily or had surfaces that were too rough to safely place the drill. What the team needed was a rock that met the following criteria:

  1. scientifically interesting,
  2. a manageable amount of surface topography,
  3. large enough to fit an abrasion and two cores, and
  4. predicted to be robust to drilling.

The best candidate was a rock called Skinner Ridge.

Abraded Patch Thornton Gap

Mars Perseverance Sol 482: WATSON Camera: The abraded patch Thornton Gap. Note the visible clasts in the rock. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The first activity the rover conducted on this rock was an abrasion called Thornton Gap, and immediately the team became excited. The abrasion was very successful, exposing the inner surface of the rock without fracturing the surrounding area. Furthermore, it revealed that this rock contained individual clasts with clear boundaries. Perseverance’s full instrument suite was used to investigate and document the abraded patch, then it was time to core.

Abraded Patch and Coring Borehole Skinner Ridge

Mars Perseverance Sol 490 – Left Navigation Camera: The abraded patch and coring borehole on the rock Skinner Ridge. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It turned out to be a fantastic choice. Collecting the core went very smoothly, and it was named Swift Run. At 6.70 cm (2.6 inches) long, it is our longest core of the mission so far. Perhaps even more exciting was to see that those same clasts visible in the abraded patch were also visible in the core. The drill data showed that the rock was one of the softer ones we have cored so far. It only required low levels of percussion to make progress through the rock, occasionally turning off percussion altogether when rotary-only drilling was sufficient.

Swift Run Core

Mars Perseverance Sol 490 – Right Mastcam-Z Camera: The Swift Run core inside the coring bit. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

One last note for anyone wondering where these names come from. The Perseverance mission names areas after different national parks on Earth. Rocks, abrasions, and cores are given names related to the current area. The rover is currently in the Shenandoah quadrangle, named for the U.S. National Park in Virginia. Skinner Ridge, Thornton Gap, and Swift Run are all features in Shenandoah.

Written by Iona Brockie, Sampling Engineer at NASA/JPLThe Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center that was established in 1936. It is owned by NASA and managed by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The laboratory's primary function is the construction and operation of planetary robotic spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA's Deep Space Network. JPL implements programs in planetary exploration, Earth science, space-based astronomy and technology development, while applying its capabilities to technical and scientific problems of national significance.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>JPL

Source: SciTechDaily