Perseverance now selects its own targets to zap

Perseverance now selects its own targets to zap

Perseverance continued in Hawksbill Gap, making remote sensing observations of small portions of outcropping rock layers in search of a good spot to take a sample. Since Perseverance is in the Shenandoah Quadrangle, we are using target names from Shenandoah National Park. Some of the names last week included “Bald_Face_Mountain”, “Little_Devil_Stairs”, “Sunset_Hill”, “Luck_Hollow”, and “Moody_Creek”. Perseverance recorded nearly 400 meters of driving progress for the week of May 15-21, accumulating a total distance since landing of more than 11.8 km on Sol 446.

This image taken by Perseverance's SuperCam targets a rock on Mars named
Perseverance’s SuperCam uses AEGIS for the first time:

SuperCam Remote Micro-Image of one of the two targets selected by the AEGIS software for chemical analysis. The laser was targeting a line of ten points indicated by the red reticle. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP. Download picture ›In another first, Perseverance selected two targets on Sol 442 and shot them with the SuperCam laser to determine their elemental compositions. Note that the rover itself chose the targets, not the operations team. Normally, when the mobile team selects the targets, the observations are not made until the next day. If Perseverance chooses its own targets, it can shoot them right after a drive, several hours before the rover team back on Earth has time to receive and analyze Navcam images of the rover’s new location and select targets. Having SuperCam results immediately can alert the team to unusual compositions in time to make decisions on further scans before the rover moves. The software package that enables this target selection is called Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Augmented Science, or AEGIS, and was developed at JPL for previous rover missions and adapted for SuperCam on Perseverance. AEGIS requests that Navcam images be taken, then it analyzes the images to find rocks and prioritize them for analysis based on size, brightness, and several other characteristics. It then launches a sequence in which SuperCam fires its laser to determine the chemical composition of one or two priority targets selected from the Navcam images. AEGIS testing on Perseverance began in March collecting SuperCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) images but not firing the laser. After tweaking several parameters in successive tests, the laser was used for the first time by AEGIS last week. The attached images show the rocks that were selected and shot. RMI images were taken after the laser shots to indicate where the laser fired. The Perseverance team plans to use AEGIS frequently from now on to provide faster data on rock composition around the rover’s path.

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