NASA’s Perseverence Rover Discovers Mysterious Boulder on Mars

On Monday, June 17th,  NASA’s rover found a mystery rock on Mars.

NASA’s Perseverance rover found a unique light-toned boulder in Mars’ Jezero crater. It was reported that the rover found it while traveling through the dried-up Neretva Vallis to analyze sediment deposits on the crater’s rim.

With its speckled, light-toned look among darker boulders, the Atoko Point boulder is 18 inches wide and 14 inches tall. The rock contains pyroxene and feldspar, which are present in Earth’s crust and the moon.

Western Washington University’s Brad Garczynski, Perseverance mission co-leader, said the team was excited about the find, noting that the rocks in the area likely came from multiple regions of the planet and made their way to Mount Washburn, where the rover found them.

Atoko Point’s minerals may have come from subsurface lava, indicating an active geological history of volcanic eruptions and erosion along the Jezero crater’s rim. The boulder’s potential relocation by ancient river flows supports this concept.

Mars’ southern hemisphere highlands are severely cratered, suggesting an old surface. The northern hemisphere has newer volcanic plains below the mountains, like the ones on Earth. Large volcanoes like Olympus Mons, the biggest in the solar system, stand on the Tharsis bulge, which is as broad as North America. Mars has a diameter of 4,220 miles, half that of Earth at 7,920 miles.

Mars presumably possessed a long-term water supply, a need for life. Lake basins, River valleys, and mineral deposits indicate that water may have flowed there. The Perseverance rover landed at the Jezero crater because of its lake deposits in the ancient river delta, and that may have preserved life.

The rover’s fourth mission at Atoko Point is searching for olivine (sometimes set in jewelry as peridot) and carbonate deposits. These minerals are vital for understanding Mars’ previous climatic conditions and may include old organic compounds, suggesting past life.