What Makes Large Grains on Mars Unique?

Long-term exploration of the summit of the western fan in Jezero crater by the Perseverance rover continues to yield new insights about Mars. Perseverance has been studying sediments that were brought to their site by ancient streams that spilled into Jezero, situated at the brink of Belva crater on atop of the fan. Each distinct rock, boulder, or silt that the Science team investigates might provide a fresh perspective on the origin of terrain, transport, and processes of erosion taking place both inside and outside of Jezero.

The abrasion Ouzel Falls that Perseverance most recently completed is depicted above. This abrasion patch, which is only slightly veiled in this image by the rover’s shadow, is intriguing due to the huge grains that can be seen inside and surrounding it. Larger grains make excellent targets for PIXL and SHERLOC exploration of elements and mineral composition since these instruments can gather several analysis points on each huge particle. These sensors’ compositional data on the grains can reveal whether they are polymineralic as well as monomineralic.

Polymineralic grains, or grains made up of several different minerals, can reveal crucial details about the geology and make-up of their source terrain. This abrasion patch may have minerals that we haven’t seen before because larger particles that are polymineralic may preserve minerals that might not have endured transport as distinct grains because they were too tiny or vulnerable to weathering.

Perseverance and its scientific payloads perform abrasions, samples, images, scans, and measurements, and there is always curiosity about what new questions will be raised and what new solutions might be discovered. The investigation of the coarse particles found during the Ouzel Falls abrasion by the Science team will provide guidance for the mission’s next stages, which will be toward the fan’s edge as well as outside Jezero crater.

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