Space

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.

NASA’s 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.

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.

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/JPL

Share

View Comments

By
Iona Brockie, NASA/JPL

Recent Posts

Caltech’s Breakthrough New Nanophotonic Chip “Squeezes” More Out of Light

Electronic computing and communications have advanced significantly since the days of radio telegraphy and vacuum…

October 4, 2022

Parallels to HIV: Another Fatal Monkey Virus Could Be Poised for Spillover to Humans

Evoking parallels to HIV, authors are calling on global health community to be vigilant. According…

October 4, 2022

Scientists Show Transmission of Epigenetic Memory Across Multiple Generations

Changing the epigenetic marks on chromosomes results in altered gene expression in offspring and in…

October 4, 2022

Spectacular Planetary-Scale “Heat Wave” Discovered in Jupiter’s Atmosphere

An unexpected ‘heat wave’ has been discovered in Jupiter’s atmosphere. It reaches a scorching temperature…

October 4, 2022

“Really Impressive” – Astronomers Capture the First Wide-Field Snapshots of X-Ray Universe

EP-WXT Pathfinder has released its first results. EP-WXT Pathfinder, an experimental prototype of a module…

October 4, 2022

“Electric Pill” Shown To Help Patients With Severe COVID-19

Activating the auricular vagus nerve provides anti-inflammatory effects in severe Covid-19 cases. A system out…

October 4, 2022