Mars' Delta Scarp From More Than a Mile Away
Composed of five images, this mosaic of the Jezero Crater's "Delta Scarp" was taken on March 17, 2021, by the Remote Microscopic Imager (RMI) camera aboard NASA's Perseverance rover from 1.4 miles (2.25 kilometers) away. Scientists believe the 377-foot-wide (115-meter-wide) escarpment is a portion of the remnants of a fan-shaped deposit of sediments that resulted from the confluence between an ancient river and an ancient lake.
An annotated version of the same image (Figure 1) reveals location of a conglomerate (rock composed of coarse-grained pebbles mixed with sand) and examples of crossbedding (tilted layers of sedimentary rock that can result from water passing over a loose bed of sediment).
Part of the SuperCam instrument, the RMI is able to spot an object the size of a softball from nearly a mile away, allowing scientists to take images of details from a long distance. It also provides fine details of nearby targets zapped by SuperCam's laser.
SuperCam is led by Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where the instrument's Body Unit was developed. That part of the instrument includes several spectrometers as well as control electronics and software.
The Mast Unit was developed and built by several laboratories of the CNRS (the French research center) and French universities under the contracting authority of CNES (the French space agency).
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.
JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.