MADRID, November 18 (EUROPA PRESS) –
NASA’s Perseverance rover has begun exploring an “intriguing” area, which the science team calls “Yori Pass,” near the base of the ancient delta that extends into the Jezero crater of Mars.
According to a statement from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), They have been “eager” to explore the region for several months after seeing a rock similar to one Perseverance collected samples from in July.
The feature is so enticing to scientists because it is sandstone, which is composed of fine grains that they have been transported from elsewhere by water before settling and forming stone. Perseverance samples are critical to the first step of the NASA-ESA (European Space Agency) Mars sample return campaign. which began when the rover stored its first rock in September 2021.
“We often prioritize studying fine-grained sedimentary rocks like this in our search for organic and potential biosignatures,” said Katie Stack Morgan, Perseverance deputy project scientist. “What is especially interesting about the Yori Pass outcrop is that it is laterally equivalent to “Hogwallow Flats”, where we find very fine-grained sedimentary rocks. That means the bedrock is located at the same height as Hogwallow, and has a large traceable footprint visible on the surface.”
Searching Jezero Crater for biosignatures—any characteristic, element, molecule, substance, or trait that might serve as evidence of ancient life—is one of the Perseverance rover’s four science goals. Along with its 14 rock core samples, the rover has collected an atmospheric sample and three core tubes, all of which are stored in the rover’s belly.
After collecting a Yori Pass sample, Perseverance will drive 227 meters southeast to a mega ripple of sand. Located in the middle of a small dune field, the undulation, called “Observation Mountain” by the science team, it will be the place where the rover will collect its first samples of regolith, or crushed rock and dust.