Bonjour de Paris! During the last week of June, ~170 members of the Mars 2020 Science Team convened across the Atlantic for a 4-day meeting in Paris hosted by our French colleagues from the Supercam team. The Science Team usually works remotely to operate the rover and discuss new science results, but with the severity of the COVID pandemic waning, we’ve begun hosting one in-person meeting a year. This yearly meeting gives team members the opportunity to get to know each other better, and to discuss and synthesize the latest rover results together. Since about 40% of Perseverance’s Science Team is international, a team meeting abroad helps to share the effort and expense of international travel.
The first day of the team meeting was held in the historic Amphithéâtre Verniquet on the beautiful grounds of the Jardin des Plantes at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Amidst this historic setting dating back to the time of the French Revolution, the team engaged in a lively discussion about the rocks explored within the western fan front, including the geologic context, origin, and astrobiological potential of the fan’s sedimentary sequence.
Day two of the meeting saw the team move to the campus of the Sorbonne in the heart of Paris’ Latin Quarter, where we discussed results from the rover’s current campaign exploring the upper fan sequence. One of the main highlights of the day was our team’s evening social event held at the breathtaking Grande Galerie de l’Evolution amidst the natural history museum’s extensive collection of preserved animal specimens. On the third day of the meeting, we heard updates from several of our instrument teams and presentations from the team’s atmospheric scientists. We also heard a report out from the Mars 2020 team’s internal diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility working group who summarized feedback from a series of discussion and listening sessions held within the team over the past two years.
The last day of the meeting focused on forward-looking topics, including a status report from the Mars Sample Return campaign and a discussion of Perseverance’s plans for the “extended prime mission” inside and outside Jezero crater in the years leading up to the rover’s rendezvous with the next leg of Mars Sample Return. Discussions like this are a great reminder of the incredible rocks ahead of us, and an excellent motivator to keep up the mission’s pace of sampling and exploration.
The agenda for our 4-day meeting was jam-packed, but opportunities for in-person interaction on a rover mission are few and far between, so we do our best to make the most of our time together. Our time in Paris was both productive and inspiring, amidst a beautiful and historic backdrop that none of us will soon forget!