After a two-week vacation on Mars, with the Red Planet directly on the opposite side of the Sun from Earth, all the instruments on its surface have returned to work. The Perseverance rover immediately started destroying Martian rocks.
Of course, it’s not about destroying in the negative sense of the word. Perseverance simply uses its tools to drill into the rocks, collect the more interesting samples and pack them into vials that will reach laboratories on Earth in a few (dozen) years, or scrape off their top layer to examine their interior.
On November 9, a few photos showing the effects of its work appeared on the Perseverance rover’s Twitter account.
Scientists controlling the rover decided to scratch the top layer of the rock, examine its interior, and then determine whether it is worth taking a sample from this particular rock, which will be sent to Earth. This is an extremely important decision. There are 43 sample vials aboard the rover, and scientists must be very careful in deciding which sample is worth bringing to Earth and which is not. After all, the second such mission will not appear soon. OK, that’s not true. China is also planning a mission in which samples of Martian soil will be delivered to Earth. However, this does not change the fact that, apart from these two missions, in the next two decades no other mission will be sent to Mars for such a purpose.
In the photos posted on the Perseverance rover’s account, observers noticed something unusual. There is a white triangle almost in the center of the frame. The mineral visible there has a surprisingly clear triangle shape. Of course, cases walk on … rocks, so the triangle could have hit and there is nothing special about it. But surely among the tens of millions of conspiracy theorists there will be some who will have a more exotic explanation for the mysterious triangle.
However, apart from the triangle itself, there is a high probability that a fragment of this particular rock will end up on Earth in the future. It is because it is a layered sedimentary rock, and rocks of this type are most often formed in water and can store a lot of information about the past of the place in which they are located. Meanwhile, the Perseverance rover runs along the bottom of the Jezero Crater, which in the past could have been a vast lake for millions of years in the past. A rock can therefore contain information that will once and for all determine whether Mars once had conditions conducive to the emergence of a life like ours, and perhaps even confirm whether such a life existed there.