Scoping Out the Next Sampling Stop
Looking Back on the Most Recent Core: This image was taken by the Front Right Hazard Avoidance Camera (Hazcam) on Sol 750 (March 31, 2023) and shows a pile of rock cuttings left behind after Perseverance acquired a core called Melyn. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Download image ›

After spending over 700 sols (Martian days) exploring the crater floor and delta front, Perseverance is making tracks up the front of the Jezero fan, climbing across stratigraphic layers, up and out of the ancient Jezero lakebed. This ascent begins the extended portion of the Mars 2020 mission, where Perseverance will continue on to the rim of Jezero Crater and beyond, collecting samples along the way for return to Earth in the 2030’s. Perseverance brought 43 sample tubes to Mars and has filled 22.

The science team is still pouring through data on Melyn, but plans for traversing to the next sample stop are already underway. Several hundred meters and a few sols lie between Perseverance and the upcoming workspace, and the team has selected a few potential targets to aim for upon arrival. A lot of work and observations go into this process; since there are a limited number of tubes in the sample cache, it’s important to use all available tools to choose targets to core that give the best chance for answering questions about Mars’s geologic past and present, potential for habitability, and whether life existed in Jezero. The upcoming stop is in a region known as the capping unit, which was first identified as geologically intriguing through satellite data gathered long before Perseverance’s arrival. Now that the mission is underway, onboard cameras like Mastcam-Z and engineering cameras provide much higher resolution imagery from afar, at ranges up to several hundred meters, which allowed the team to select Castell Henllys as the region of interest within the capping unit. As we approach the workspace, SuperCam and Mastcam-Z scan the rocks from distances up to a few dozen meters, gathering fine-scale visual and chemical data on rock textures, structures, and composition, which gives the science team the information needed to choose which rocks are the best candidates for sampling. Close-up images from the aforementioned cameras and WATSON help the rover planners assess which of the potential targets are accessible and core-able. Finally, Perseverance approaches the target, deploys its arm, and uses an abrasion tool to grind away the top few millimeters of the rock of interest. Arm-mounted SHERLOC and PIXL scan the abraded patch to characterize mineralogy, elemental composition, morphology, and search for signs of organic matter, SuperCam uses a laser to further query mineralogy, and even more images are taken. The science and engineering teams use this data to make a final target selection, and then Perseverance drills! With all of these tasks- and ground to cover- Perseverance will be very busy in the sols ahead, roving on towards Castell Henllys to drill another core that future scientists will one day study here on Earth for decades to come.

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
  • Stephanie Connell
    SuperCam, PhD Student, Purdue University
    West Lafayette, IN
  • 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
  • Elisha Jhoti
    Ph.D. Student, University of California, Los Angeles
    Los Angeles, 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
  • Forrest Meyen
    MOXIE Science Team Member, Lunar Outpost
  • 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
  • Thirupathi Srinivasan
    Robotic Systems Engineer, NASA/JPL
  • 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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