Meet the Mars Samples: Otis Peak (Sample 20)
Meet the 20th Martian sample collected by NASA's Mars Perseverance rover - "Otis Peak," the first rock core sample taken from a conglomerate rock, which consists of pebbles cemented together.
This sample is referred to as a "treasure box" because the pebbles are believed to have been carried by a fast-moving river from places the rover may never explore. Scientists believe studying this sample may yield information about the formation and environmental evolution of Jezero Crater.
As of early November 2023, the Perseverance rover has collected and sealed 23 scientifically selected samples inside pristine tubes as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign. The next stage is to get them to Earth for study.
Considered one of the highest priorities by the scientists in the Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032, Mars Sample Return would be the first mission to return samples from another planet and provides the best opportunity to reveal the early evolution of Mars, including the potential for ancient life. NASA is teaming with ESA (European Space Agency) on this important endeavor.
A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, as well as be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Read about all the carefully selected samples: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars-rock-samples
Learn more about the Mars Sample Return campaign: https://mars.nasa.gov/msr
MARS ROCK SAMPLES
SAMPLE 20: OTIS PEAK
LOCATION: EMERALD LAKE, UPPER FAN
GEOLOGIST & SCIENCE OPERATIONS - MARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER
Samantha Gwizd: Sample 20 is called "Otis Peak," and we collected it from a rock called "Emerald Lake" on the Upper Fan.
Emerald Lake is really interesting because it's our first conglomerate sample, which is a rock that consists of pebble size grains cemented together.
SYSTEM OPERATIONS, RESEARCH SCIENTIST - MARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER
Steven Sholes: These are lots of little pebbles from rocks that were collected all throughout the Jezero Crater watershed. So this is way outside where the river is and all these pebbles are well-rounded. What well-rounded means is that these things traveled far and because they're larger, we know that this was a high energy environment. Which means that the water was flowing much faster and so it's able to carry larger sediments to form these conglomerates.
There's the potential we can actually take these back to Earth and analyze each individual pebble to understand what these different rocks are that formed. And you can kind of piece together a broader spectrum of what this area outside of Jezero Crater was like.
Samantha Gwizd: This sample is like a really cool treasure box because we may or may not ever be able to encounter these sources with the rover. And so this gives us a glimpse into some other really interesting rocks and their history.
For more information on Mars Rock Samples: mars.nasa.gov/mars-rock-samples
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