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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Scientists Puzzling Over Shiny Rock on Mars–the First of its Variety By no means Seen Earlier than

Element of a mosaic taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover reveals a boulder discipline on “Mount Washburn” Credit score: NASA / Western Washington College / SWNS

Scientists are puzzling over a vivid white rock, of the kind by no means earlier than noticed on Mars.

NASA’s Perseverance rover noticed the 14-inch-high boulder starkly standing out in a big discipline coated with darkish rocks in a area named Mount Washburn, inside the large Jezero crater.

Nicknamed Atoko Level by researchers, the boulder is eighteen inches broad and has speckles on a light-toned floor.

Instrument evaluation by Perseverance’s SuperCam and Mastcam-Z signifies that the rock is not less than partly composed of the minerals pyroxene and feldspar.

“By way of the dimensions, form, and association of its mineral grains and crystals—and doubtlessly its chemical composition—Atoko Level it’s in a league of its personal,” mentioned NASA in a information launch.

“The variety of textures and compositions at Mount Washburn was an thrilling discovery for the crew, as these rocks symbolize a seize bag of geologic items introduced down from the crater rim and doubtlessly past,” mentioned crew co-leader Brad Garczynski of Western Washington College.

“Amongst all these totally different rocks, there was one that basically caught our consideration.”

Perseverance, which landed on the Pink Planet in 2021 particularly to probe the traditional crater, encountered the sparkly boulder whereas traversing a dried river delta that after flowed billions of years in the past. On its approach to an space contained in the rim the place rocky outcrops are being examined for sediment that might make clear Mars’ historical past, the rover modified course to keep away from tough terrain. It took a brief lower by a dune discipline and reached the hill strewn with boulders.

Composed of 18 photos, this natural-color mosaic from Mars reveals the boulder discipline on Jezero Crater – NASA / SWNS / Western Washington College 

A number of the Perseverance scientists speculate the minerals that make up Atoko Level had been produced in a subsurface physique of magma that’s presumably uncovered now on the crater rim.

Others on the crew have steered the boulder could have been created far past the partitions of the Pink Planet’s 28-mile-wide Jezero crater and transported there by the “swift Martian waters” eons in the past.

“Both manner, the crew believes that whereas Atoko is the primary of its sort they’ve seen, it received’t be the final,” says NASA.

A key goal for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, together with caching samples which will include indicators of historical microbial life.

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The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and previous local weather, with the intention to pave the best way for human exploration of the Pink Planet, and be the primary mission to gather and cache Martian rock and regolith.

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