Perseverance Scouts Landing Sites for Mars Sample Return Campaign
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover used one of its navigation cameras to take this image of flat terrain in Jezero Crater. This is one possible site that NASA may consider for a Mars Sample Return lander that would collect Perseverance's samples of Mars rock and sediment in the future. The lander would serve as the launch platform for a Mars Ascent Vehicle that would blast off from Mars, delivering the samples to an orbiter as part of their journey to Earth for intensive study.
Choosing an area that lacks large rocks (especially those over 7 1/2 inches, or 19 centimeters, in diameter), sand dunes, and steeply angled terrain would go a long way toward easing the path for an MSR recovery vehicle to efficiently grab tubes before heading to the lander.
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.
For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/
For more about Mars Sample Return: https://mars.nasa.gov/msr/