Victory Glamour Shot

Contributed by Corrine Rojas

Victory glamour shot of a successful sample rock coring! This is the first time that the rover has imaged this side view of a sample core inside a drill bit. When it comes to rover hardware views, the Mastcam-Z operations team has already commanded many different kinds of imaging requests from the team by this point in the mission. So when these frames came down from Mars, I was eager to check out this novel shot by Mastcam-Z! I wasn’t even on shift that day, but when it comes to sampling days, many of us on the team are incredibly eager to see the results as soon as possible. Upon loading up the image, I knew right away it was an instant favorite. Part of my job operating the cameras is to make sure that they were correctly in focus when taking images, and that was the first thing that stuck out to me here. The right Mastcam-Z camera was set to its maximum zoom (110 mm focal length) and used to take this photo. Our uplink colleagues at Malin Space Science Systems did a fantastic job setting up the autofocus. The result is almost artistic!

This sample is called Swift Rock and it is the first likely sedimentary rock sample collected on the mission so far (on sol 490, July 7, 2022). It also happens to be the longest so far at 6.69 cm (2.63 in) long! The team has been collecting paired samples at each location, so five sols later on sol 495 we acquired the second sample, Skyland, which is 5.85 cm (2.30 in) long. The rover is currently at the base of the Jezero delta front at an area called Skinner Ridge. We have been seeing more instances of beautifully-layered sedimentary rock around here, exciting many of our mission’s scientists.

The hardware you see in this image is the drill bit attached to the rover arm. Since this imaging sequence took photos using both left and right cameras centered on the rock core, 3-D views can also eventually be created from the resulting image pair. The novel Mastcam-Z imaging parameters from helping to confirm this successful core sample were also used in the planning of the core tip images of its paired sample taken a few sols later. Finally, in addition to providing engineering and science support, to me it is just a stunning picture all on its own — human-assembled hardware being used, getting dirty, and working nominally on Mars! 

Here is a link to the Perseverance Rover’s Mars Rock Sample Collection Log, which is updated after each sample pair has been collected. The left and right eye Mastcam-Z images from this core imaging campaign can all be found online on the NASA Mars 2020 Raw Images web site by clicking “Mastcam-Z – Left” and “Mastcam-Z – Right” and Filtering on sol 490.

July 7, 2022

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