The rover has left behind the boulder field at “Fall River Pass” for now, and we’re currently investigating an enigmatic sedimentary rock unit that was first spotted by Ingenuity during its 52nd flight several weeks ago. This is a great example of how Ingenuity’s unique aerial perspective can help us scout out areas of interest ahead of the rover. This rock is located within a linear trough west of “Fall River Pass” and its age relationship with the nearby boulder-rich deposits is of particular interest, since these sediments might represent one of the final stages in the construction of the Jezero fan. We’re also interested in determining what sort of environment this rock formed in – could it have been deposited in a river, or a lake?
At an erosion-resistant outcrop named “Dream Lake”, the rover deployed its usual toolkit: first using its Gas Dust Removal Tool (gDRT) to blast away the dust cover, then performing an abrasion for science analysis of the rock interior. The rock’s gDRT-cleaned surface intrigued us, revealing a pitted texture containing embedded rounded crystals (see the WATSON image above). Over the weekend, we used our proximity science instruments like PIXL to investigate the abrasion patch further.
As we continue to digest these data, we’re thinking about our next steps as we explore this fascinating area. This week, we plan to take a short drive south to investigate a different outcrop within the trough that might represent a different variation of the same unit or another rock type altogether. After that, we’ll be headed to the next boulder field to continue our investigation. Soon, we’ll be driving westwards to the geological contact between the fan and the margin unit at a place named “Mandu Wall”. This will mark the end of our Upper Fan Campaign and the start of a new campaign to investigate the intriguing carbonate-bearing unit along the inner rim of Jezero Crater.