Perseverance has left scientists present on Mars, but they can’t open it until 2033

In the not too distant future, a planetary scientist will open a tube of rock that came from Mars.

Thanks to the rover, there are at least 17 rock and regolith samples, waiting for analysis on Earth. To obtain it, the spacecraft has traveled about 13 kilometers (8 miles) on its field trip of the Martian geology.

The rover has been digging and shoveling since shortly after landing, ejecting rocks and sand into special tubes for transportation.

It dropped its first payload near a place called Three Forks this week. This tube contains fragments of igneous rocks found in January of this year.

It wasn’t just a “drop and run”. The mission’s engineers had to make sure the tube landed safely. So, they did it slowly. First, Perseverance pull the container out of her stomach.

He then looked at the whole thing with the camera before dropping the tube 90cm onto the roof.

Then another image showed the mission’s engineers that the sample was securely in place on its side for easy capture.

Eventually, all of the containers filled by Perseverance will make their way to the labs on Earth. Scientists will analyze them to understand the chemical and mineral properties of the samples.


From there, they can create a more accurate geological and atmospheric history of the Red Planet.

“The selection of the first Mars depot makes this exploration campaign very real and tangible,” said David Parker, ESA’s director of human and robotic exploration. “Now we have a place to visit with samples waiting for us there.”

What will we learn from rock samples persisting on Mars?

Mars is a puzzle planet. Its history is complicated. Volcanoes are there. How long have they been active?

Valleys divide the landscape. What caused these tectonic actions? Craters scar the planet, mining for material from deep below the surface. Places on Mars clearly show evidence of liquid water flowing. However, the water does not flow there now. Everything is trapped in ice below the surface or at the poles.

So, how can we learn more about the planet’s geological history?

The most direct way is to look at rock samples. Mars contains igneous rocks, as well as sandstones, siltstones and mud. And of course, there is dust and sand almost everywhere. All of these can tell something about the time on Mars when lava flowed, lakes and oceans were present, and when it all happened.

Detailed technical analysis of igneous rocks will determine how long the volcanoes have been active. Chemical and mineral clues in Martian rocks will help planetary scientists understand if they have been in contact with water. Finally, all of this information should help scientists figure out if and when Mars supports life.

The rock samples Perseverance collects come from the various rock “systems” in Jezero Crater. Orbital images show that this area was once an ancient flooded delta. It appears to be rich in clay minerals and carbonates that only form in the presence of water.

These same carbonates contain a record of the ancient Martian climate. However, there is something else interesting about them: On Earth, organisms can also produce carbonates.

It’s not clear if those on Mars have the same life-friendly ancestry, but it makes Jezero Crater a tantalizing place to sample.

Creation of a rock pipeline from Mars to Earth

The sampling trip using tubes has been part of the program since the beginning. The original idea was to collect the probe and deliver it to the NASA Sample Return Lander (SRL).

This mission is being planned and built by NASA and the European Space Agency for launch later this decade. You must land at Jezero Crater near Perseverance to make it easier to connect the pipes. The lander is equipped with an ESA-built sampling boom to operate.

Of course, scientists don’t want to leave anything to chance. Therefore, the expedition also has a backup plan in case Perseverance is not able to deliver. Mission scientists will send two small helicopters to collect samples.

We know this can work because the Ingenuity Helicopter has been flying away in overtime, showing scientists what the Mars Helicopter can do.

Once the rocks are on board the small ship, they will be loaded into a small rocket that will be launched from the surface.

Once in space, it will deliver it to an ESA-built spacecraft orbiting Mars for eventual return to Earth. If all goes well, the rocks are expected to be in labs for more detailed study sometime in 2033.

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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