The rover has been on the Red Planet since 25 October, examining the South Séítah region of the Jezero Crater, as part of Nasa’s search for extraterrestrial life – but took a brief pause recently during solar conjunction, where the sun blocked communication between Earth and Mars for the space agency.
As well as looking for microbial life, the rover will also collect samples of Martian geology so scientists can develop a more accurate history of the planet’s climate.
It used its abrading tool to scrape away at the foreign rocks to investigate the minerals inside.
“Peering inside to look at something no one’s ever seen. I’ve abraded a small patch of this rock to remove the surface layer and get a look underneath. Zeroing in on my next target for #SamplingMars,” read a post from the rover’s official Twitter account.
Peering inside to look at something no one’s ever seen. I’ve abraded a small patch of this rock to remove the surface layer and get a look underneath. Zeroing in on my next target for #SamplingMars.
More pics here for fellow rock lovers: https://t.co/Ex1QDo3eC2 pic.twitter.com/qfIRs3MYyI
— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) November 9, 2021
The rover revealed a circular smorgasbord of minerals and sediment inside one of the crater’s layered rocks – which scientists can use to tell when the material was formed and what the climate was like.
It was recently revealed that the Jezero Crater was the home of an ancient river delta, with the presence of water making it more likely that there was life on Mars.
Perseverance has 43 sample tubes to collect Martian detritus, which will be brought back to Earth by a future mission for scientists to study, and recently collected its first “perfect” rock sample (after a previous sample mysteriously went missing.) It is likely the space agency will now take a new sample from this area. If so, these rocks could be even older than the ones previously collected.
“There are potentially older rocks in the ‘South Séítah’ region ahead of us, so having this younger sample can help us reconstruct the whole timeline of Jezero,” Vivian Sun, one of the mission’s scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said in August 2021.
This article was amended on 29 December 2021 to clarify that Perseverance is collecting samples to be brought back by a future mission.