PIA26333: Standing Out on Mars' 'Mount Washburn'
 Target Name:  Mars
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Mars 2020 Rover
 Spacecraft:  Perseverance
 Instrument:  Mastcam-Z 
 Product Size:  12657 x 2680 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  Malin Space Science Systems
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA26333.tif (68.05 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA26333.jpg (3.459 MB)

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click here for Figure A for PIA26333
Figure A

Composed of 18 images, this natural-color mosaic shows a boulder field on "Mount Washburn" (named after a mountain in Wyoming) in Mars' Jezero Crater. The Perseverance science team nicknamed the light-toned boulder with dark speckles near the center of the mosaic "Atoko Point" (after a feature in the eastern Grand Canyon). The images were acquired by NASA's Perseverance Mars rover on May 27, 2024, the 1,162nd Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

Analysis by the rover's SuperCam and Mastcam-Z instruments indicate Atoko Point is composed of the mineral pyroxene, similar to some boulders the rover has encountered elsewhere in Jezero Crater. In terms of the size, shape, and arrangement of its mineral grains and crystals – and potentially its chemical composition – Atoko Point is different from any of the rocks the rover has encountered before.

Some Perseverance scientists speculate the minerals that make up Atoko Point were produced in a subsurface body of magma that is possibly exposed now on the crater rim. Others on the team wonder if the boulder, which stands about 18 inches (45 centimeters) wide and 14 inches (35 centimeters) tall, had been created far beyond the walls of Jezero and transported there by swift Martian waters eons ago.

Figure A: In this enhanced-color version of the mosaic, the color bands of the image have been processed to improve visual contrast and accentuate color differences.

Arizona State University leads the operations of the Mastcam-Z instrument, working in collaboration with Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, on the design, fabrication, testing, and operation of the cameras, and in collaboration with the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen on the design, fabrication, and testing of the calibration targets.

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, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

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

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