After successfully scooping 12 samples from the surface of Mars, the Perseverance rover has set its eyes on the Enchanted Lake in the Jazero crater. The lake is a sedimentary outcrop southwest of the rover’s current location and has been a priority science target since its arrival on the Red Planet.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which operated the rover on Mars, said that the drive to the enchanted lake will begin in a few days and it will reach the destination in September. The rover is currently located on the “Wildcat Ridge” within the crater that is believed to be home to an ancient lake on the planet.
While the rover drives to its new location, engineers at JPL will continue to assess the foreign object debris that has been detected in one of the rover’s coring bits, and “the rover team feels comfortable moving forward due to progress made in its FOD investigation,” JPL says.
Nasa’s deputy project scientist Katie Stack Morgan believes that the location provides one of the mission’s best opportunities to find rocks that could have preserved remnants of ancient microbial life a primary goal of the mission. While the rocks, igneous in origin, having formed billions of years ago from molten rock that cooled either underground or after volcanic eruptions, can offer a great deal of information about the interior of Mars.
Sedimentary rocks like those that dominate the Jezero delta provide an ideal site to look for signs of past life.
“When I saw the Hazcam image of Enchanted Lake, it was love at first sight. This image provided our first up-close glimpse of sedimentary rocks the ones I’ve been most eager to explore since Jezero was named the landing site for Perseverance nearly four years ago,” Katie Stack Morgan said.
The rover has been looking for signs of ancient microbial life on the planet and the Enchanted Lake offers to have all the ancient ingredients required for life.