To Sample or Not to Sample
Jezero Crater's Delta Is Getting Closer: Mastcam-Z panorama of the Jezero delta acquired during rapid traverse towards the delta front. Perseverance is currently exploring the area on the left side of this image, which is where Hawksbill Gap is located. NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS. Full image and caption ​›

One of the prime objectives of the Perseverance mission is to collect a diverse cache of rock samples for eventual return to Earth. Among the highest priority rocks to sample are those that make up the well-preserved delta located on the western side of Jezero crater. This delta was one of the key attributes that made this landing site so appealing for the search for ancient Martian life. Close examination of deltaic rocks is critical for interpreting their depositional environment and establishing whether this paleoenvironment may have been habitable.

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 424 - Right Mastcam-Z Camera: Mastcam-Z image of rocks at Enchanted Lake. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU. Download image ›
Since landing in Jezero crater last year, the rover has been investigating and drilling crater floor rocks to add to the sample cache. But the rover hadn’t yet had access to the coveted deltaic rocks—until now, that is. After conducting a “rapid traverse” toward the delta, Perseverance finally arrived at the delta front. Last week the rover parked at a site called Enchanted Lake, where the team was hopeful we might sample deltaic rocks for the very first time. But the rover can only collect a finite number of samples so the team has to carefully weigh all options, keeping in mind what has already been sampled and also trying to anticipate what we might encounter along the rest of the traverse. Even though we’re eager to drill into the delta, we have to be judicious.

So, our first action item at Enchanted Lake was to examine the rocks there using the rover’s remote science instruments in order to decide whether they fit the desired criteria for sampling. The rocks at this site displayed many distinct—and interesting!—characteristics compared to the others we have studied thus far in Jezero. Yet after a thorough assessment, the team decided to forego sampling at this location. It was a tough decision to make, but we feel optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead. The data collected at Enchanted Lake will be used instead to build context for future investigations of the delta.

The rover is now headed east toward a location called Hawksbill Gap, another promising location for sampling the delta. While traversing along the delta front, Perseverance will continue to collect data to help characterize the contact between the crater floor and deltaic rocks before ascending onto the delta itself. But our long-awaited sample of delta rocks? For that, we’ll have to wait just a little bit longer.

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.

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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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:


Where is the Rover?

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

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