A lot is happening on Mars now. NASA currently has its Perseverance Rover preparing to record some of the events with the first flight of the Ingenuity helicopter. The Ingenuity helicopter is one of the most interesting experiments that NASA is conducting on the surface of Mars and that could result in the first controlled flight on another planet. As Ingenuity prepares for its flight tests, Perseverance operators noticed an interesting rock nearby and started an investigation.
NASA spotted a green-tinted rock on the surface of the Red Planet and rotated the Perseverance laser on the rock. The origins of the rock are a mystery, and scientists on the mission are reported to exchange hypotheses about where the rock is from and how it was formed. Scientists wonder if the odd rock is something that has been weathered from the local rock, a patch of Mars resulting from a very distant impact, or perhaps a meteorite.
The mission scientists say the rock is about six inches long, and notable on its surface are the row of laser marks where Perseverance investigated the composition of the rock. The laser used is part of the SuperCam instrument. The hope is that, over time, the data learned from the laser will help scientists determine whether the rock formed where it is or ended up there by some other process.
The researchers believe that if the rock did not form at its current location, it could have been carried to the crater by water in the distant past, or it could be a piece of meteorite in which Perseverance took place. The rover is exploring the Jezero crater for signs of ancient life. The area in the distant past was the location of a deep lake and a river delta. The laser the rover is using to investigate the rock creates a cloud of vaporized material that can be analyzed by cameras and spectrometers on board the rover.