• Wed. May 25th, 2022

Mars rock makes ‘surprise’ face as NASA rover grabs sample

ByRandall B. Phelps

Feb 1, 2022

This Mars rock dubbed “Issole” appears to be wearing a surprise face, but it actually comes from NASA’s Perseverance rover drilling for rock samples.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

This story is part Welcome to Marsour series exploring the red planet.

I like a good goofy image of Mars, and NASA once again delivered a look at a rock dubbed “Issole” that appears to have two googly eyes and an open “O” shaped mouth. Surprise! This face shaped coin on another planet is the work of the rover Perseverance.

Issole has a number of drill and abrasion marks as it is an intriguing and ancient rock. NASA has rushed to collect samples that can be brought back to Earth via a future mission. Perseverance, however, met a setback when pebbles from a previous drilling attempt clogged its sample collection system in late December. the the rover team figured out how to clear the pebblesreleasing Perseverance to grab a new piece of rock.

Perseverance ended up throwing away the remnants of the sample that erased the works.

“That rock almost looked surprised that I was coming back! Luckily I was able to grab another sample here to replace the one I threw away earlier,” the rover team tweeted on Monday. “It may be one of the oldest rocks I’ve sampled, so it might help us understand the history of this place.”

The latest addition to the rover’s collection of rocks is a testament to the ingenuity of the rover team, who have worked methodically on the rock problem since it began in late December.

NASA also shared images of the rock core in the sample tube and a glimpse of what Issole might look like after the latest drilling. Perseverance has left multiple distinctive marks on the rock and now it looks more like the Three-Eyed Little Green Men Alien Characters from the claw machine scene in Toy Story.

Perseverance searches for evidence of ancient microbial life in Jezero Crater, an ancient lakebed with a fascinating water history. With the activities at Issole complete, the rover will search for other rocks to sample as it continues its exploration through the dry, dusty land.