NASA Mars Perseverance Rover Campaign #2: The Delta Front

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Artist’s rendering of NASA’s Perseverance rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Recently on " data-gt-translate-attributes="[{" attribute="">March, " data-gt-translate-attributes="[{" attribute="">NasaThe Perseverance rover has officially launched the “Delta Front Campaign”. This second campaign of the mission began on April 18and2022, the 415and ground since landing. Each campaign represents a sub-part of the Mars 2020 mission and is dedicated to exploring a distinct region, drilling designated core sets for possible future return to Earth, and taking numerous on the spot scientific observations with on-board instruments to study the geological and environmental characteristics that characterize this region of the planet.

Floor is a solar day on Mars, i.e. a Mars-day. At approximately 24 hours, 39 minutes and 35 seconds, a sol is slightly longer than an Earth day.

During the Crater Floor campaign, Perseverance spent over 400 soles scouring the floor of Jezero Crater, starting with the Octavia E. Butler landing sitedriving south to explore the best exposures of the crater floor rocks, then returning north around Seitahand approaching the edge of the delta.

During this crossing, Perseverance drilled and collected 8 rock cores, an atmospheric sample and a sealed control tube. The rover characterized igneous lithologies (or types of rocks) that make up the bottom of the crater, studied the Martian atmospheric phenomenon and the dust cycle, supported the Ingenuity Helicopter 27 flights (so far!) and more. Perseverance also used cameras and remote sensing instruments to start observe the delta from afar in preparation for the Delta Front campaign. Right here you can see an interactive map showing everywhere Perseverance has explored to date!

Mars Perseverance Sol 419

Perseverance looks towards the Delta on Sol 419, capturing this image with its right navigation camera. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Delta Front campaign will take about half an Earth year: Perseverance will travel 130 feet (40 meters) above and above the delta, drill cores along the way, and characterize the layered sedimentary rocks that make up the delta . These sediments were deposit billions of years ago, when water flowed over the surface of Mars and a river flowed into the ancient crater below.

If Mars supported life at that time, remnants or signatures of these organisms could be preserved in some of these ancient rocks. By characterizing the delta’s structure, mineralogy and organic chemistry, scientists hope to better understand Jezero’s past environment and select nuclei that could be astrobiologically interesting for the return to Earth!

Perseverance will pass the first soils of the delta front campaign crossing an area called Cannery Passage, which is the transition region between the rim of the crater floor and the delta. Then, the scientific team will have a big decision to make: which direction will Perseverance take to go up the delta?

Over the past few months, the Science Team’s Campaign Planning Science Group has been working to map out potential pathways and has decided on two options: Cape Nukshak and Hawksbill Gap. Once Perseverance gets closer to this point of divergence, the images and other data collected by the rover’s instruments will give scientists and engineers a better idea of ​​which area might be of most interest and provide better opportunities for conducting surveys. scientific measurements. After selecting a path, Perseverance will ascend the layers of the delta, stopping to analyze sediment and gather cores along the way.

Once the ascent is complete, the Delta Front campaign will end and Perseverance will begin Campaign #3: The Delta Top.

Written by Denise Buckner, student collaborator at the University of Florida.

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