PIA26204: How Perseverance's PIXL Gets Close to a Rock Target
 Target Name:  Mars
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Mars 2020 Rover
 Spacecraft:  Perseverance
 Instrument:  Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) 
 Product Size:  3561 x 1996 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA26204.tif (15.19 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA26204.jpg (423.4 kB)

Click on the image above to download a moderately sized image in JPEG format (possibly reduced in size from original)

Original Caption Released with Image:

Click here for animation

This time-lapse video, which has been sped up by 24 times, uses an engineering model of one of the instruments aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover to show how the instrument evaluates safe placement against a rock. If it's determined to be safe, the rover places the instrument, called the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), close to the targeted rock for science observations. This test occurred at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California on June 8, 2023.

Located on the end of Perseverance's robotic arm, PIXL scans postage stamp-size areas on rocks with an X-ray beam the width of a human hair, determining which elements are present. Scientists use this information to infer what minerals and chemicals are in a rock and help decide whether Perseverance should collect a rock core using its drill.

The X-ray beam exits the circular opening at the center of PIXL; colored LED lights around that circle can light up a surface, allowing an internal camera to take images. Those images allow PIXL to autonomously place itself – very slowly and precisely – as little as 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) away from a surface to collect its data.

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, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed for the agency by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

Image Credit:

Image Addition Date: