NASA's Perseverance Rover collects Martian regolith, its third sample type
NASA's Mars Perseverance Rover has picked up regolith, which is basically Martian dust, from a large sand ripple called "Observation Mountain." This is the third sample type collected by the Rover, which already has 15 rock samples and one atmospheric sample stashed in its sample collection chamber. Regolith can provide insights into the global and local landscape on the red planet.
Why does this story matter?
- Perseverance Rover landed at the Jerezo Crater on Mars in February 2021. It is the first mission to gather and store Martian rock and regolith samples.
- The six-wheeled robotic explorer spent over 600 sols (Mars days) exploring Jerezo, a region that is assumed to have been abundant in water in the past and might possess clues about the presence of life on the planet.
What is regolith and why is it important?
Regolith is the sandy, dusty, loose material that covers the majority of the Martian surface. It is made up of small rock fragments, some of which are sourced from across the planet. According to NASA, rivers and oceans might have flowed through the red planet billions of years ago. But, presently the most "dominant force" that is affecting the Martian landscape is wind.
Equipment on board the Rover has helped inspect the sample
The in-house cameras and spectrometers on Rover helped scientists locate a suitable region to collect the sample, assess the mineralogy of the regolith specimen and determine the elemental composition. Scientists used a "scuff" maneuver to scoot the wheel over a regolith pile, moving surface material out of the way so each of the instruments could take a look at rock fragments.
Scientists call the regolith sample a "hodgepodge of Martian minerals"
The observations reveal important information about the Martian regolith which has been termed a "hodgepodge of Martian minerals." NASA, in collaboration with ESA, is planning to bring back the obtained Martian samples to Earth by 2030.
Here's what the regolith sampling region looks like
New achievement unlocked! After taking 15 rock cores and one atmospheric sample, I now have my third sample type: “regolith” (loose, sandy material). This specialized, hollow drill bit is another great tool for #SamplingMars.— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) December 5, 2022
Read more: https://t.co/59ySl17teW pic.twitter.com/1HBd1UIMhs