NASA to laser-mark graffiti on Martian rocks for further study on Earth

NASA will laser mark graffiti on Martian rocks for further study on Earth

NASA has laser-marked graffiti on Martian rocks to identify rock samples to be brought back to Earth for study.

NASA’s Perseverance rover is currently collecting Martian samples from the 45-kilometer-wide Jezero Crater for future return to Earth, along with a search for signs of ancient life on Mars.

The samples will be brought to Earth possibly as early as 2031 as part of a joint mission by NASA and the European Space Agency.

But an original orientation is essential for a rock collection, Roger Wiens, principal investigator, SuperCam/Co-Investigator, SHERLOC instrument at Purdue University, said in a statement.

This is mainly because samples taken from fine-grained surfaces are difficult to distinguish.

“For every Martian rock core sample that comes back, we need to know its original orientation,” Wiens said.

“If the surfaces of those core samples have easily recognizable features, that’s no problem. That’s been the case with the collected cores so far. However, if the surface is fine-grained, there may be nothing to distinguish its rotational orientation.”

In that case, we have to make artificial markings on the surface.

“We don’t have dark markers, but we do have a pulsed laser,” he added.

Wiens also revealed that the first alphabet to be engraved was “L”.

“If your name starts with an ‘L’ you’ll love this post about the first letter to be laser engraved on Mars,” he said.

In June, Perseverance used the laser that is part of its mast-mounted SuperCam instrument to create three L-shaped points in the rock.

“After a successful dry run, we are ready to use this procedure to label future samples,” said Wiens.

The rocks brought back could also help researchers reconstruct the history of Mars’ magnetic field and its impact on the planet’s atmosphere.

Sanjit
Sanjit

I am Sanjit Gupta. I have completed my BMS then MMS both in marketing. I even did a diploma in computer software and Digital Marketing.

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