NASA’s Perseverance rover has recovered another Martian sample to send home to Earth.
The size of a car Perseverance rover drilled a core on Monday (November 15), filling a titanium tube with Red Planet rock for the third time in its history.
“Another little piece of Mars to take with me. My last sample is from a rock laden with greenish mineral olivine, and my science team has several ideas as to how it got there. Hypotheses fly! Science reigns supreme “, Perseverance team members written via the rover’s official Twitter account Tuesday (November 16), where the team posted some photos of the sampling operation.
Related: Where to find the latest Mars photos from NASA’s Perseverance rover
Olivine is an iron and magnesium silicate that makes up most of the Earth’s upper mantle. Tuesday’s tweet didn’t provide details on the flying olivine hypotheses, but the Perseverance team will likely give us some clues over the next few days and weeks.
Perseverance landed in February on the floor of the 45-kilometer-wide Jezero Crater, which housed a lake and a river delta in the ancient past. The rover’s main tasks are to look for signs of the past martian life and collect dozens of samples, which will be returned to Earth by a joint NASA-European Space Agency campaign, possibly as early as 2031.
The six-wheeled robot collected its first two samples in early September, both from a rock on the Red Planet that the mission team dubbed “Rochette.” (The double success at Rochette came after a trial in early August which failed because the the target rock was surprisingly crumbly.) Perseverance has traveled several hundred yards since then and is now exploring a rugged, dune-filled patch of Jezero known as Séítah (meaning “among the sand” in the Navajo language).
Séítah displays a variety of multi-layered rocks, which intrigued the scientific team enough to take a sample.
“Each layer records information about the environmental conditions present when the rock formed, and changes in layer thickness or texture expressions indicate an environmental change,” wrote Erin Gibbons, a student collaborator with Perseverance, from McGill University in Canada. blog post on November 12.
“Further, by studying the directions in which the layers tilted, we determined that the Séítah rocks are probably the oldest rocks exposed in all of Jezero Crater,” Gibbons wrote. “Séítah therefore represents the beginning of accessible geological archives and offers a unique opportunity to explore the full extent of the evolution of the landscape. “
Perseverance recently got help from a robotic boyfriend – the Mars helicopter Ingenuity, which landed with the rover in February. Ingenuity initially embarked on a technology demonstration mission, but has worked so well that it now does scouting work for Perseverance, which is especially useful in hilly areas such as Séítah.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about finding alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.