NASA's Perseverance rover has found a strange, green rock on the surface of Mars that is having its science team' trade hypotheses' to understand its origin and composition.
The Perseverance rover landed on the Martian surface on February 18, 2021, to search for rock samples that may contain signs of life- either as fossilized remains or organic carbon compounds that are crucial for life to develop. The rock currently under scrutiny is greenish with small holes on its surface and measures at around 6 inches or 15cm in length.
NASA is now using the rover's laser, known as 'SuperCam' to gather more information about the rock's composition. On March 10, 2021, NASA said that "Variations in the intensity of the [laser's] zapping sounds will provide information on the physical structure of the targets, such as its relative hardness or the presence of weathering coatings."
Information on the rock's composition will also tell scientists whether it formed where it currently is or if it was transported from elsewhere. If the rock didn't form where it has been found, the researchers say that water may have carried it over from elsewhere or that it may be a meteorite.
Perseverance is the main component of NASA's $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission. At the size of a car, it began searching for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet in Mars's Jezero Crater, which used to house a deep lake and river delta. After analyzing various rocks in this crater, the rover will cache the most promising samples for return to Earth later this decade.
The SuperCam laser first fired on Mars on March 2, at a target called 'Maaz', named after the Navajo word for Mars. The Perseverance team then informally named that region of Jezero 'the Canyon de Chelly', after a national monument on Navajo land in northeastern Arizona. The Navajo Nation is now working with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to name various features on the Martian surface.