Reading the Ripples at Observation Mountain

Examining Regolith on Sol 599: Perseverance looks down at the subsurface of a regolith pile at Observation Mountain, after using its wheel to “scuff” and overturn the pile. Regolith is the sandy, dusty, loose material that covers the Martian surface, made up of small rock fragments. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

After spending over 600 sols (days on Mars) exploring the diverse geologic environment of Jezero Crater, collecting drilled rock cores (and one atmospheric sample) along the way, Perseverance recently spent some time parked near a large sand ripple named “Observation Mountain,” with sights set on something widespread yet unique. Regolith is the sandy, dusty, loose material covering much of the Martian surface, and is made up of many small rock fragments some of which are sourced from across the planet. Billions of years ago, lakes, rivers, and oceans flowed across Mars, but today, wind is the dominant force shaping the geologic landscape. Over time, rock breaks up into smaller pieces, then wind can carry and tumble those pieces long distances, depositing them in new locations, and even building ripples and massive dunes. Regolith is important for providing insight into the global and local Martian landscape, all in a single “grab bag.” Perseverance is equipped with a special bit to collect a sample of regolith for eventual return to Earth! The Mars 2020 science and engineering teams have spent the last week studying a large ripple at the base of the Jezero Delta that is a candidate for future regolith sampling. Hazcams, Navcams, and Mastcam-Z provided images that helped scientists choose which ripple to target, SuperCam and SHERLOC used their laser spectrometers to assess the mineralogy of regolith in the workspace, and PIXL queried the elemental composition of these rock fragments. The rover planners even used a “scuff” maneuver to scoot the wheel over a regolith pile, moving surface material out of the way so each of the instruments could take a look at rock fragments in the lower part of the regolith pile. So far, these observations have yielded important information about regolith on Mars, and the team is looking forward to collecting a grab bag sample and returning it to Earth, where scientists can continue studying this hodgepodge of Martian minerals right here at home!

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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