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Perseverance Mars rover sets sights on ‘Enchanted Lake’

photo of a many-layered rock

A graphic of the “Enchanted Lake” outcrop that Perseverance snapped on April 30, 2022.(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is heading back again to an enchanting outcrop of sedimentary rocks the spacecraft first visited back April.

The team behind the Perseverance rover has been undertaking exploration and sampling at “Wildcat Ridge” within Jezero crater, but are actually preparing to go back to an area nicknamed “Enchanted Lake.” This outcrop formed into thin layers of Martian rock as time passes as mud, silt and sand in Jerezo Crater solidified. It really is of great interest to the Perseverance team, who assess that the formation could possibly be among the mission’s best opportunities to get rocks which could contain remnants of any ancient microbial life that may once have existed on the Red Planet.

Perseverance is likely to arrive back at the fan-shaped rocks informally named following a landmark in Alaska’s Katmai National Park and Preserve in early September. By that point, the rover team hopes to possess wrapped up work checking to ensure Perseverance’s sampling system is free from any debris.

Related: 12 amazing photos from the Perseverance rover’s 1st year on Mars

Exciting because the potential findings at Enchanted Lake could possibly be, you will see a long await definitive results. Any determination of what Perseverance discovers in the rock will need to wait before samples are sent to Earth for examination in the first 2030s by the NASA-ESA Mars sample return campaign.

Meanwhile, sampling on Mars in addition has thrown up a concern recently and the team really wants to understand the problem before setting of on its travels to Enchanted Lake.

Perseverance has collected four sets of samples in recent weeks. However the last coring activity on Aug. 3 led resulted in discovery of debris in the sampling system that mission personnel feared may have interfered with future operations.

“Before you begin the drive, we’ll continue efforts to measure the two small, string-like bits of foreign object debris (FOD) detected using one of the rover’s coring bits,” Perseverance Deputy Project Manager Steven Lee wrote in a NASA post the other day.

The Perseverance team has conducted diagnostic activities and commanded the rover to go, rotate or vibrate components to greatly help measure the situation and so are confident that sampling can proceed without issue, Lee noted.

Been looking into some small debris in my own drill system. Im created for a dirty environment, nonetheless it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. Thankfully it appears like Ill be rolling on soon, headed because of this spot my team calls Enchanted Lake. Latest blog: 19, 2022

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The initial eight samples collected by Perseverance were extracted from rock formed through volcanic activity, as the latest batch were all extracted from sedimentary rocks. All being well, the brand new sedimentary trend will continue with the assortment of material from Enchanted Lake.

“Been looking into some small debris in my own drill system,” NASA personnel wrote on the mission’s Twitter account on Friday (Aug. 19). “I’m created for a dirty environment, nonetheless it doesn’t hurt to be cautious. Thankfully it appears like I’m going to be rolling on soon.”

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Andrew Jones

Andrewis a freelance space journalist with a concentrate on reporting on China’s rapidly growing space sector. He began writingfor in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist among others.Andrewfirst caught the area bug when, as a young child,hesaw Voyager images of other worlds inside our solar system for the firsttime.From space,Andrewenjoys trail running in the forests of Finland.It is possible to follow him on Twitter@AJ_FI (opens in new tab).

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