Mars Rover Finds Way To Ford Ancient River

by | July 2, 2024, 2:30 PM | Solar Systems

a map of Percy’s path

The Perseverance rover has been making its way along the coast line of a long dried up river that once allowed water to drain from Jezero Crater.  Today, the Neretva Vallis river channel isn’t just dry, it’s filled with sand dunes… And Sand Dunes are known to be rover-eating monsters. Rather than plunging into the channel and risking a crossing where the dunes were too big, the rover has been painstakingly picking its way around boulders and hoping to find a gently slopping shore line into a region with less dramatic dunes. This tedious process has been slow, with the rover only making it 30 meters or so at a time. Lately mission planners have been concerned the rover would get behind schedule in its scientific explorations.

That all changed in early June when Percy found safe passage down into the river bed and way through the dunes. In a single day it leapt forward 200 meters to a pile of interesting rocks in the center of the channel. Since then, it has continued to wheel forward 100 meter-ish bursts, allowing the rover to catch up to its planned schedule while taking time to check out amazing rocks that are like nothing we have seen before. 

Personally, I’m just in love with this image that shows a mars river made of dunes, and little Percy’s remarkable path of exploration.

Here is to hoping there are more of these great strides forward and fewer boulder fields in this rover’s future.