Meet the Mars Samples: Pelican Point (Sample 22)
Meet the 22nd Martian sample collected by NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover – “Pelican Point,” the first sample taken from an area in Jezero Crater that has intrigued scientists since orbital images showed it to be rich in carbonate, a mineral linked to habitability. What formed this “Margin Unit” – ancient volcanoes, an ancient shore line, or something else? By answering that question, scientists can better understand the evolution of the Red Planet.
As of early December 2023, the Perseverance rover has collected and sealed 23 scientifically selected samples inside pristine tubes as part of the Mars Sample Return campaign. The next stage is to get them to Earth for study.
Considered one of the highest priorities by the scientists in the Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032, Mars Sample Return would be the first mission to return samples from another planet and provides the best opportunity to reveal the early evolution of Mars, including the potential for ancient life. NASA is teaming with ESA (European Space Agency) on this important endeavor.
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, as well as be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
Read about all the carefully selected samples: https://mars.nasa.gov/mars-rock-samples
Learn more about the Mars Sample Return campaign: https://mars.nasa.gov/msr
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL/Purdue/USGS
MARS ROCK SAMPLES
SAMPLE 22: PELICAN POINT
LOCATION: HANS AMUNDSEN MEMORIAL WORKSPACE, MARGIN UNIT
SYSTEM OPERATIONS, RESEARCH SCIENTIST - MARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER
[Steven Sholes] Sample 22 is “Pelican Point,” collected from the “Hans Amundsen Memorial Workspace” as part of the margin campaign. This is our first sample of the margin unit. What's very interesting from this is that from our orbital satellites, we saw very clearly that this margin unit had a lot of carbonate in it.
GEOLOGIST & SCIENCE OPERATIONS - MARS PERSEVERANCE ROVER
[Samantha Gwizd] And carbonate is this mineral that has been associated with water rock interaction and may be linked to habitable environments.
[Steven Sholes] Does this have the carbonate that we are looking for? And, what formed the margin unit? Because this is something that has been puzzling scientists for a while.
[Samantha Gwizd] One possibility is that they were deposited via volcanic activity. Another possibility is that these sediments were deposited on an ancient shoreline on a beach. And so we're still trying to figure out exactly what the origin of these rocks are.
[Steven Sholes] Collecting this sample and potentially bringing it back to Earth, will help us understand, how did the margin unit form and what is it? And that is an important question for understanding the evolution of the environment here in Jezero Crater.
For more information on Mars Rock Samples: mars.nasa.gov/mars-rock-samples
IN MEMORY OF HANS AMUNDSEN - MARS 2020 MISSION SCIENCE PLANNER