The above picture represents a close up combining two images from Perseverance’s SuperCam science instrument of a rock named ‘Yeehgo”, which is the Navajo word for diligent. The SuperCam instrument was developed by Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico and a consortium of French research laboratories under the auspices of the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES). These pictures as well as associated data was delivered to the French Agency’s operations center in Toulouse. Along with the pictures several sound files were downloaded including the zapping sounds of laser shots on rocks as well as ambient noise which sounds like wind in the background of Mars. You can go to the NASA link on the SoundCloud homepage to listen to these sounds from Mars at the following link: https://soundcloud.com/nasa.
The SuperCam team also collected information from SuperCam’s Visible and Infrared sensors (VISIR) as well as the Raman spectrometer instruments. The VISIR and RAMAN spectrometer work together to collect light reflected from the Sun to study the mineral content of rocks and sediments. The RAMAN spectrometer utilizes a green laser which will excite chemical bonds and provide insights into the elements which bond the rocks and give the scientists an idea of the chemical composition of the samples. The SuperCam instrument will be vital in selecting the various terrain, rocks, and geology to be sampled and tested either in-situ with the limited available instruments on the rover or to cache certain samples for a possible return to Earth mission. This Mars Sample Return Campaign will be one of the most ambitious feats yet to be performed by any space agency so we’ll keep an eye on that mission as well as the time nears.
One of the primary objectives of the Mars 2020 mission is astrobiology which will entail searching for signs of ancient microbial life. Collecting and caching samples is part of that process and the success of that will have a huge bearing on the Mars Sample Return Campaign.
To learn more about this part of the mission journey over to: