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New images from NASA show the Perseverance Mars rover working hard as it searches the Red Planet for signs of ancient microbial life.

Since “Percy” landed in Mars’ Jezero crater in February, the agency said the rocks there are beginning to reveal a picture of history from billions of years ago.


NASA confirms there were thousands of ancient volcanic eruptions in Mars region

in Thursday’s releaseNASA credits Perseverance’s seven science cameras for team’s progress

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“Imaging cameras are a big part of everything,” Vivian Sun, co-chief of Perseverance’s first science campaign at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, said in a statement. “We use a lot of them every day for science. They’re absolutely mission-critical.”

NASA shared a photo from Perseverance’s navigation cameras on the rover’s longest autonomous drive ever, an enhanced-color panorama from the mast’s Mastcam-Z camera system captured by Perseverance’s Remote Microscopic Imager (RMI) camera Taken is a shot of the “Delta Scarp” of the crater. and a close-up of a rock target named “Granthshala” using its Watson (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and E-Engineering) camera.

After acquiring Mastcam-Z images of Scarp and Supercam RMI to provide a more detailed view of the scarp, Supercam principal investigator Roger Wiens said the images showed that a major flash flooding event had occurred, The boulder was washing into a delta formation.

The Perseverance Mars rover used its Mastcam-Z camera system to create this enhanced-color panorama, which scientists use to look for rock-sampling sites.  The panorama is stitched together from 70 different images taken on the mission's 155th Mars day, or sol, on July 28, 2021.

“These large boulders are at the bottom of the delta formation,” said Venus of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. “If the bottom of the lake was full, you’d find these at the top. So the lake wasn’t full at the time of the flash floods. Overall, this could be a sign of an unstable climate. Maybe we didn’t always have this very calm, Quiet, livable place that we would have liked to raise some microbes.”

NASA’s Perseverance rover team samples first Martian rock

Scientists working on persistence have also found signs of igneous rock formed from lava or magma on the crater floor – Once the site of a lake – during the same time frame, pointing to the presence of not only running water, but also flowing lava.

Those discoveries have guided researchers in their larger astronomical missions and with their task of collecting samples of Martian rock and regolith.

Watson, at the end of Percy’s robotic arm, provides the team with extremely close shots of their targets, assisted engineers in positioning the rover’s drill to extract rock core samples and produced images of where the sample was taken. . It also takes selfies.

Persistence took this close-up of a rock target named "Fox" using its Watson camera on July 11, 2021, the mission

With Perseverance’s SHERLOC (Scanning the Habitable Atmosphere with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) and PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry) instruments, Watson helped find signs of that igneous rock on the crater floor. is of.

“We’re getting really nice spectra of materials that form in aqueous [watery] atmosphere – eg sulfates and carbonates,” said Luther Beagle, principal investigator for Sherlock at JPL, in the release.

“Once we get closer to the delta, where there should be really good conservation potential for signs of life, we have a pretty good chance of seeing something, if it’s there,” he said.