Perseverance has been busy lately. After testing its systems, making the first audio recording on the Red Planet and dropping its helicopter buddy, it now has the opportunity to work on its main task: stare at some rocks. And occasionally zap with a laser.
This laser is part of the Supercam system that we reported on earlier. It sublimates part of a rock with its laser. The gas released by the sublimation is then analyzed by spectroscopic cameras on board the rover. This spectroscopy of the smoke given off by the rock helps determine what the rock actually consists of.
Image of the SuperCam laser and spectroscopy system that Perseverance uses to analyze rocks.
Photo credit: CNES
Recently, the rover came across a unique rock that piqued the interest of its scientific team. They duly zapped the stone with a laser, and Perseverance posted a picture of the now slightly more pockmarked rock on his Twitter feed.
The rover even urged its followers to try and find the extra pockmarks created by the laser, which Twitter user @justpaladone and a number of others did in responses to the main tweet.
Another Twitter user, Nicolas Worth, pointed out the similarity between the rock Perseverance is researching and the rock found by Opportunity in 2005, now known as Heat Shield Rock. This stone turned out to be a 93% iron meteorite and was the first meteorite found on another planet.
Image of the heat shield rock that Opportunity found in 2005. It was actually the first meteorite ever found on another planet.
Photo credit: NASA / JPL / Cornell
Whether or not Perseverance blew up a possible meteorite with a laser is still up for debate, and it will likely be a while before the results of the Supercam science mission are released. Until then, Perseverance will continue to blast rocks and patiently wait for his winged friend to fly, which should happen in the coming weeks.
UT – Since perseverance is in search of life, what will it look for?