EXPLORING THE JEZERO CRATER FLOOR: THE MARS 2020 PERSEVERANCE ROVER’S FIRST SCIENCE CAMPAIGN
Starting from Octavia E. Butler Landing, Perseverance is driving south towards its first sampling location in the Crater Floor Fractured Rough (CF-Fr) unit, which from orbit is distinguished by its mafic composition and cratered surface, and is of geochronologic interest. Characterization activities associated with sampling will likely permit definitive determination of whether this unit is igneous or sedimentary. Afterwards, Perseverance will drive west and cross into a region of the Crater Floor Fractured 1 (CF-F-1) unit at an exposure named “Séítah,” a morphologically striking region of low ridges, boulders, and sand dunes. From orbital data, unit CF-F-1 is olivine-bearing and may contain rocks that are stratigraphically lower and potentially older than any other rocks in the Jezero basin. Unlike CF-Fr, rover-based images of CF-F-1 reveal ubiquitous evidence of layering, possibly sedimentary in origin. The mission expects to acquire two samples in/from Séítah. Perseverance will then investigate an exposure of raised ridges that are part of a large fracture system and hypothesized to be mineralized fracture fills, potentially preserving evidence of subsurface fluid flow distinct from the lake-and-river system that once filled the crater. The Perseverance team will investigate the origin of these raised ridges, and potentially collect a sample from this area.
To preserve maximum flexibility for ultimate caching of samples for collection by a follow-on mission, each unique sample will be paired with a companion sample from the same location. In this way two different caches may contain samples from this important campaign. At the conclusion of this crater floor campaign, around March 2022, Perseverance will begin on a traverse towards its next science campaign, on and around the prominent ancient delta preserved in the western part of Jezero crater.