A small chunk of Mars will travel home when the US space agency launches its final rover mission on Thursday. NASA’s Perseverance robot will carry with it a meteorite that originated on the Red Planet and is still in the collection of the Natural History Museum (NHM) of London. The known rock properties will serve as a calibration target to compare the performance of the rover instrument. This will give added confidence to any discoveries the robot can make, according to BBC News.
This little rock has a true story, said Professor Caroline Smith, a member of the Perseverance robot science team.
It was formed about 450 million years ago, was thrown off Mars by an asteroid or comet about 600,000-700,000 years ago, and then landed on Earth. Scientists do not know the exact origins of the “arrival” of a piece of Mars to Earth but assume that it was about 1000 years ago. And now he is returning to Mars.
Discovered in the deserts of Oman in 1999, the meteorite known as Sayh al Uhaymir 008 or SaU 008 is a classic piece of basalt very similar to the type of igneous rock found, for example, on the Giant’s Trail in Northern Ireland.
It contains a lot of pyroxene, olivine and feldspar minerals. And it’s this well-studied chemistry, along with the textures of the meteorite, that makes it so useful for the Perseverance robot mission.