Mars– Or Arrakis? Perseverance Is Currently Winding Through a Maze of Towering Sand Dunes

HiRISE Spots Perseverance in South Séítah

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HiRISE Spots Perseverance in ‘South Séítah’: The white dot in the centre is our precious Perseverance rover, overshadowed by the big dune in the Séítah area. This image was obtained on September 24 th, 2021, by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment on the Mars ReconnaissanceOrbiter Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

Who dislikes deep sand traps more than golf enthusiasts?

Mars rover motorists (and most likely Fremen too).

When your automobile is well over 50 million kilometers far from the closest tow business, getting your wheels stuck in sand can be a mission-critical issue. Such a dilemma ended the Spirit rover’s objective in 2009.

Yet Perseverance is presently winding her method through the labyrinth of imposing dune that identify the Séítah area of Jezero crater (“Séítah” indicates “amidst the sand” in the Navajo language, a well-fitting name). A current image beamed back from the HiRISE electronic camera (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals the level to which the neighboring dunes overshadow the rover, which itself is the size of a little SUV.

What lured the Science Team into this treacherous zone packed with sand traps? The response depends on our observations. After Perseverance landed and turned her eyes (cams) towards Séítah, the Science Team was dealt with to an engaging view of diversely layered rocks. We saw thin layers and thick layers, planar layers and slanted layers, featureless layers and layers with protrusions. These observations amassed enjoyment among us due to the fact that we understand, from studying Earth, that an outcrop of layered rocks works as a geological time-line. Each layer records details about the ecological conditions present when the rock formed and modifications in layer densities or textural expressions shows an ecological modification. Further, by studying the instructions that the layers slanted, we figured out that the rocks of Séítah are most likely the most ancient rocks exposed in all of Jezero crater. Séítah for that reason represents the start of the available geologic record and provides a once-in-a-mission chance to check out the complete breadth of landscape development.

Mars Perseverance Sol 248

Mars Perseverance Sol 248– Left Navigation Camera: Photograph of the Brac rock target situated in front of the Perseverance rover. This rock captured our eye for the series of stacked layers with variable densities. Perseverance obtained this image on sol 248 utilizing its onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

However, from a range, it is challenging to identify what that progressing landscape in fact appeared like. Numerous hypotheses have actually been proposed for the origin of the layered rocks in Séítah, consisting of sedimentation in an ancient lake or river with differing circulation energy, airfall of ashes, airfall of product removed by an effect occasion, cooled lava circulations, or a magmatic invasion. Each among these possibilities brings with it a (extremely) various analysis of how habitable Jezero crater remained in the deep past and understanding which circumstance is most proper needs a more detailed look.

Which is why we braved the sand. As of this writing, the rover is parked in front of among the fascinating layered rocks that we spied from a range, informally calledBrac On sol 253 (November 5 th, 2021, Earth time) Perseverance connected and utilized the abrader drill bit and the Gaseous Dust Removal Tool to scrape a couple of millimeters of rock off the surface area of Brac to expose the fresh, un-weathered surface area for research study. The Science Team is presently reading the images and preparing follow up analyses that will bring us one action more detailed to unraveling how these rocks formed and whether that environment might have been beneficial for life.

Written by Erin Gibbons, Student Collaborator at McGill University.

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