Happy one Martian year at Jezero! Perseverance and the team recently celebrated one Mars year (668 sols or 687 Earth days) on the Red Planet while continuing to offload some of our sample tubes at the “Three Forks” depot location. The celebration also marked the end of our prime mission at Jezero as we transition into our extended mission phase and set our sights on the delta top. It has been a fitting celebration and end to our prime mission, as each sample tube we drop is a souvenir that jogs the memory and reminds us of all we have accomplished thus far at Jezero. It seems like only yestersol we got our first glimpse of our new home at the Octavia E. Butler landing site, collected our first rock sample at Rochette, or rolled up to the delta front pondering what ancient mysteries these rocks may hold.
While our main priority at the depot area has been building the contingency sample cache, the team has managed to continue collecting valuable science. We have been using our remote sensing payload, including the SuperCam and Mastcam-Z instruments, to characterize the diversity of rocks around the rover and conduct longer distance observations of the delta outcrops. We have also been conducting our standard atmospheric observations to monitor the Jezero environment in addition to documenting wind-driven changes in dust and sand around the sample cache.
Following the upcoming completion of the 10th and final sample tube drop at “Three Forks,” Perseverance will start its ascent of the Jezero delta through Hawksbill Gap to begin our next science campaign. The team has been deep in discussions planning our future traverse and observations that will continue to elucidate the geologic history of Jezero crater. The rocks at the delta top will provide important clues into the nature and timing of ancient watery environments and a record of sediments washed down from the crater rim and beyond. With the prime mission behind us, we are eager to build upon our previous explorations at Jezero and see what new adventures and stories the next Martian year will bring.