Once Upon A Rover
Mars Perseverance Sol 554 - Left Navigation Camera: NASA's Mars Perseverance rover acquired this image using its onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam). The camera is located high on the rover's mast and aids in driving. This image was acquired on Sept. 11, 2022 (Sol 554). Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

Once upon a time - early 2013 -  there was a small corner room in the Flight Projects building at JPL where the walls and windows were coated in pages and pages of paper. These pages contained the facts and arguments being assembled by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, who were asking: what must the next rover to Mars do?

We rearranged those pages over and over during the next few months, standing back and staring at the wall as we continually asked ourselves: did the chain of logic ring true? Have we provided evidence to support our statements? Eventually we wrote up our report with the conclusion that the next rover to Mars needed “to seek signs of past life (had it been there), select and store a compelling suite of samples in a returnable cache, and demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration of Mars.” My job was team documentarian; at one point this involved wrangling a file that was trying to merge and track revisions by 15 people simultaneously who were all sending me their comments via email.

In the years since, thousands of people around the world have worked together to turn those words into reality. My own part in this mostly focused on how would the science team come together to select scientifically compelling rock samples within the constraints of operating a technically complex rover on Mars. In the last year and a half, I have watched with delight as the science team has done just that. We’ve debated which way to go and where to look. We’ve puzzled over what the data is telling us. We’ve sampled rocks formed by slowly cooling magma and rocks formed in the still waters of a lake. You can find out more at the summary of our recent press conference.

Right now on Mars, the rover has arrived back at the Enchanted Lake area. The rocks here can tell us more about the earliest history of the lake within Jezero Crater and how it relates to the igneous rocks covering the floor of the crater. This exploration strategy of taking a look, moving on, and then coming back allowed us to think about the Enchanted Lake rocks and compare them to rocks further up the delta at Hogwallow Flats. When translating observations of rocks into an understanding of the history of a location, context is key – we’re not looking at a single rock in isolation, we’re getting to know its neighbors too. Understanding how all these rocks relate to each other enhances our understanding of the whole area, and will also hopefully someday assist future scientists as they analyze the samples in laboratories.

As we continue to explore the Jezero delta front and look ahead to our first sample depot placement, I think back to that small room and those papers on the wall – the first pages in the ongoing story of Perseverance.

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
  • 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:


Where is the Rover?

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

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