Mars, Perseverance, sol 446 Rover now selects targets for exploration

(ORDO NEWS) — The Perseverance rover continues its work in the Hawksbill Gap area, remote sensing small areas of exposed rock layers in search of a suitable place to collect samples.

Since the rover is located in the Shenandoah Quadrangle (the name of a national park in the US), we use the names of the new targets from the Shenandoah National Park.

Last week’s targets we named “Bald_Face_Mountain”, “Little_Devil_Stairs”, “Sunset_Hill”, “Luck_Hollow”, and “Moody_Creek”.

In the week of May 15-21, Perseverance traveled nearly 400 meters, covering over 11,800 meters since landing as of sol 446.

For the first time, Perseverance selected two targets on sol 442 and “fired” them with a SuperCam laser to determine their elemental composition.

Note that the targets were selected by the rover itself, not by the task force on Earth. Usually, when the rover team selects targets, observations are not made until the next day.

But if the rover selects targets on its own, it can examine them immediately after the trip, many hours before the rover team on Earth has time to receive and analyze images from the Navcam camera from the rover’s new location and select targets.

With immediate SuperCam results, the team can spot unusual Martian compositions in time and decide on further analysis before the rover moves on.

The software that allows you to select targets is called Autonomous Exploration to Enhance Scientific Capabilities (AEGIS).

It was developed at JPL for previous rover missions and adapted for SuperCam on Perseverance. AEGIS receives images from Navcam and then analyzes them to find rocks and prioritize them for analysis based on size, brightness and some other characteristics.

A sequence is then launched in which the SuperCam fires its laser to determine the chemical composition of one or two of the highest priority targets selected from the Navcam imagery.

AEGIS testing on Perseverance began in March with SuperCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) image acquisition, but no laser firing.

After adjusting several parameters in subsequent tests, the laser was used for the first time for AEGIS last week.

The pictures attached to the news show the stones that were selected and studied. RMI shots were taken after the laser shots to show where the laser hit.

The Perseverance team plans to use AEGIS frequently in the future to obtain more timely data on the composition of the rocks along the rover’s trajectory.

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