BLOGMARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER


Perseverance at the Delta
Mars Perseverance Sol 388 - Right Mastcam-Z Camera: NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast. This image was acquired on March 24, 2022 (Sol 388) at the local mean solar time of 08:08:28. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU. Download image ›

Last week’s blog talked about the rapid traverse of Perseverance to the Delta. This weeks blog entry will talk about the Delta itself, and why it is something worth rapidly traversing towards!

The prospect of the delta for me is that every day will be full of excitement and could bring anything. Let me explain that a bit further. On a space mission like M2020 you get used an exciting timeline of activities, but for a geologist, the excitement of the delta comes from not knowing what is coming next. Every image that is returned by the rover of the delta rocks will be in a very real sense unique.

Let’s explore that line of thinking a bit.

A delta forms when a sediment laden river runs into a body of standing water, and as it does so, slows and can no longer hold the sediment, so it drops the rocks, gravel and soil into the water body, which gently sinks to the bottom and forms a delta. Over time, the delta becomes a layered repository, like an book with pages, which one can turn over each day to learn more about the history of Mars.

How does it achieve this? Well, the rocks and sediments had to come from somewhere. They were sourced in a region called the “watershed” of the delta. This is a much bigger area than Jezero crater (itself about 45km across), and the rocks we see in the delta will inform us about a wide range of Martian process, and some rocks may even be *older* than the Jezero crater itself (about 3.9 billion years old).

This might happen, for example, if a very old rock is preserved in the watershed, and then is broken off by water, and then carried by that fluid into the river, and finally into Jezero crater. If we do get access to these super-old rocks, then this would be a very interesting thing for the rover to sample for eventual return to Earth.

Another mind bending possibility is that we may find fossilized traces of ancient Martian life in these delta rocks. In one scenario, life might have got started in the early Noachian period (about 4 billion years old) when Mars was probably more friendly to life, and was preserved in the watershed until one fateful day when they were washed into the river system, and then the crater.

So these interesting rocks will arrive somewhat randomly to us as we explore the delta, one can appreciate that everyday of the year-long “Delta campaign” will be exciting for every scientist on the team, because every day could be the day we hit it big. Real big.

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast.
Mars Perseverance Sol 395 - Right Mastcam-Z Camera: NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its Right Mastcam-Z camera. Mastcam-Z is a pair of cameras located high on the rover's mast. This image was acquired on March 31, 2022 (Sol 395) at the local mean solar time of 15:34:50. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU. Download image ›



About This Blog

These blog updates are provided by self-selected Mars 2020 mission team members who love to share what Perseverance is doing with the public.

Dates of planned rover activities described in these blogs are subject to change due to a variety of factors related to the Martian environment, communication relays and rover status.

Subscribe via RSS RSS icon


Sign up to Mars Newsletter

Contributors+

  • Mariah Baker
    Planetary Scientist, Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
    Washington, DC
  • Matthew Brand
    SuperCam/ChemCam Engineer, Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos Alamos National Laboratory
  • Sawyer Brooks
    Docking Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Adrian Brown
    Deputy Program Scientist, NASA HQ
    Washington, DC
  • Denise Buckner
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Fred Calef III
    Mapping Specialist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Alyssa Deardorff
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Kenneth Farley
    Project Scientist, Caltech
    Pasadena, CA
  • Phylindia Gant
    Mars 2020 Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Brad Garczynski
    Student Collaborator, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • Erin Gibbons
    Student Collaborator, McGill University
    Montreal, Canada
  • Michael Hecht
    Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) Principal Investigator, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Westford, MA
  • Louise Jandura
    Chief Engineer for Sampling & Caching, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Bavani Kathir
    Student Collaborator on Mastcam-Z, Western Washington University
  • Lydia Kivrak
    Student Collaborator, University of Florida
    Gainesville, FL
  • Rachel Kronyak
    Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Steven Lee
    Perseverance Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • An Li
    Student Collaborator on PIXL, University of Washington
  • Justin Maki
    Imaging Scientist and Mastcam-Z Deputy Principal Investigator, NASA/JPL
  • Sarah Milkovich
    Assistant Science Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Eleanor Moreland
    Ph.D. Student, Rice University
    Houston, Texas
  • Matt Muszynski
    Vehicle Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Claire Newman
    Atmospheric Scientist, Aeolis Research
    Altadena, CA
  • Avi Okon
    Sampling Operations Deputy Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Pegah Pashai
    Vehicle Systems Engineer Lead, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • David Pedersen
    Co-Investigator, PIXL Instrument, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
    Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Eleni Ravanis
    Student Collaborator, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
    Honolulu, HI
  • Kathryn Stack
    Deputy Project Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vivian Sun
    Science Operations Systems Engineer, Staff Scientist, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Iona (Brockie) Tirona
    Sampling Engineer, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Jennifer Trosper
    Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Vandi Verma
    Chief Engineer for Robotic Operations, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Rick Welch
    Deputy Project Manager, NASA/JPL
    Pasadena, CA
  • Roger Wiens
    Principal Investigator, SuperCam / Co-Investigator, SHERLOC instrument, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN

Tools on the Perseverance Rover+

The Perseverance rover has tools to study the history of its landing site, seek signs of ancient life, collect rock and soil samples, and help prepare for human exploration of Mars. The rover carries:


CAMERAS & SPECTROMETERS
GROUND-PENETRATING RADAR
ENVIRONMENTAL SENSORS
TECHNOLOGY DEMO
SAMPLE COLLECTION

Where is the Rover?

Image of a rover pin-point at Perseverance's location on Mars, Jezero Crater

View Map ›