NASA’s Perseverance reveals ancient geological secrets on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover has made great strides in its mission to uncover the geological history of Mars by exploring the ancient river channel in Neretva Valles.

It was originally thought to be just a road clear of rocks slowing down the rover, Neretva Valis It has turned into a hidden geological treasure. After navigating through a challenging dune field to avoid potentially damaging boulders, the rover reached its newest area of ​​scientific interest on June 9.

This detour did not shorten the driving time to the area nicknamed “Bright angel“, but it also gave the science team the opportunity to explore fascinating geological features within an ancient river channel.

Journey through Neretva Vallis

the Neretva Valis A river channel, which billions of years ago carried a large flow of water into it Jezero CraterIt offered a more efficient route to crossing Perseverance. Perseverance began paralleling the canal in late January, and initially made good progress.

However, the increasing number and size of the rocks soon slowed the rover’s progress significantly. This difficult terrain forced the team to use the vehicle’s automatic navigation system, AutoNav, for safe traversal, but even AutoNav found it difficult. Eventually, the team identified a potential shortcut through a quarter-mile dune field into the river channel, a route they had been eyeing for some time.

Evan Graser, deputy strategic route planner for Perseverance at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explained the team’s strategy: “We were watching the river channel just to the north as we went, hoping to find a section where the dunes were small and far enough apart from each other.” A rover to pass between them, because it is known that sand dunes eat Mars rovers.

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The team’s patience paid off when they found a suitable entry point and perseverance It took a direct line, allowing the rover to reach its first science station inside the canal efficiently.

Discoveries at Mount Washburn

one of perseverance Noticeable stop was at Mount Washburn, a bump identified from afar by the rover’s Mastcam-Z camera. This site has captured the attention of scientists because of its diverse rocks and light-colored rocks. After closer inspection, the team was amazed by the variety of colors and textures present, prompting a detailed analysis using Perseverance’s remote sensing instruments.

Discovering such geological diversity in Mount Washburn It has opened new avenues of research, providing deeper insights into the history of the region.

A prominent landmark on Mount Washburn is a shiny rock called “Atoko Point” that is dotted with dark spots. Using Mastcam-Z for multispectral imaging and SuperCam for laser analysis, the team aims to decipher the composition and geological processes that formed Atoko Point. Preliminary analysis indicates that Atuku Point consists of pyroxene and feldspar, with mineral grains and unique crystals that distinguish it from other rocks found on the Earth’s surface. Mars.

Some scientists speculate that the minerals originated from a body of magma beneath the Earth’s surface, while others believe that the rock may have been transported from far away. Jezero Crater With ancient Martian water.

Head towards the bright angel

After the successful exploration of Mount Washburn. perseverance She continued her journey, covering 433 feet north to investigate the geology of “Tuff Cliff” before embarking on a longer journey to Bright angel. This next target, visible from orbital images, stands out because of its striking contrast with the surrounding terrain.

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Bright angel

The scientific team is eager to examine the vertical stacking of rocks in Bright angel To understand their connection to Neretva Valis and the crater rim. These investigations are expected to reveal important information about the geological history of Jezero Crater and the role that water played in shaping the landscape of Mars.

Brad Jarzynski of Western Washington University, co-leader of the current scientific expedition, highlighted the importance of these discoveries: “The diversity of textures and compositions at Mount Washburn was an exciting discovery for the team, as these rocks represent a large collection of geological elements that have been lowered from the crater rim and perhaps beyond. that.

The findings at Mount Washburn and the expected discoveries at Bright Angel are essential to linking together Mars’ The complex geological history and understanding of the planet’s past environments.

Objectives of NASA’s Perseverance mission

Exploring perseverance Neretva Valis It is a critical component of its mission to reveal the history of hydrological and geological activity on Mars. The mission’s main goal is astrobiology, including storing samples that may contain signs of ancient microbial life.

The rover’s findings contribute to our understanding of Mars’ geology and past climate, paving the way for future human exploration. next NASA The missions, in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA), aim to return these samples to Earth for detailed analysis.

NASA’s Perseverance mission It is part of a broader approach to exploring the Moon and Mars, including the Artemis missions to the Moon, which will help prepare for human exploration of Mars. Red planet. Each new discovery made by Perseverance brings scientists closer to understanding the history of Mars and the possibility of ancient life, enhancing our knowledge of the Red Planet and the possibilities for future exploration.

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