A month on Mars: what NASA’s Perseverance rover has found so far
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00698-5No signs of past life have emerged yet, but rocks at the landing site show signs of having been shaped by wind and water.
Perseverance took its first drive on Martian soil on 4 March.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA’s Perseverance rover has had a busy first month on Mars’s surface. From Jezero Crater, where Perseverance landed on 18 February, it has been doing as much geology as it can — snapping pictures of its surroundings and analysing the rocks nearby. Already, team scientists have determined that several of the rocks are chemically similar to volcanic rocks on Earth, and that wind and water have eroded some of them. . . .
As planned, the rover’s main science experiments will have to wait a few more months, while engineers continue to test its scientific instruments and prepare for the first helicopter flight on another world. Eventually, Perseverance will deploy an arsenal of tools, including a drill bit, a close-up camera and multiple chemical sensors to hunt for signs of past life in Martian rocks. . . .
The delta, deposited billions of years ago by a river flowing on Mars, would have been an ideal landscape for ancient microbial life, had such life existed. But a treacherous dune field, which the rover cannot cross, lies between Perseverance and the delta. Researchers are discussing whether to drive the rover clockwise or counterclockwise around the dune field; the latter would make for a shorter trip, but the former would take Perseverance past a greater variety of interesting rocks. . . .
First, Perseverance must drive to a suitable spot for it to test Ingenuity, its helicopter. This place will probably be a rock-strewn area not too far from the rover’s current location. There, the rover will lower Ingenuity from its belly, drive off a safe distance and shoot a video as the helicopter takes to the Martian skies. “We’re looking forward to those historic, aviation-first movies,” said Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University in Tempe who leads one of the rover’s camera teams. The helicopter test comes first because Ingenuity will fly with the rover as it drives, helping Perseverance to navigate its way across the landscape.
Wind AND WATER! RIVER FLOWING!
A previous Rover saw rocks that looked like they had been eroded and deposited as if by water. Seems that is no longer in doubt.
A fucking helicopter on Mars! Wow!