Perseverance Rover puts SuperCam instrument to work for the first time

NASA's Perseverance rover is currently on the surface of Mars and is just beginning its science mission. The image seen below is a composite that combines two images into a mosaic to show a close-up of a rock target named Yeehgo. The images used to build the composite were taken by the SuperCam Remote Micro-Imager (RMI).NASA notes the name "Yeehgo" is an alternative spelling of the word "Yéigo," a Navajo word that means diligent. The spelling had to be changed to be compatible with the rover software. Along with the image, the rover also beamed back the laser's sound as it smashed against the rock to test what the rock is made of.

Perseverance SuperCam principal investigator Roger Wiens said that it was "amazing" to see the instrument working so well on Mars. He said eight years ago, when the instrument was first being conceptualized, scientists on the team worried they were being too ambitious, but it's working "like a charm." SuperCam lives atop the rover's mast and weighs about 12-pounds.

The sensor head can perform five types of analysis focused on studying geology and helping scientists to choose which rocks strewn about the Martian surface should be sampled in the hopes of finding evidence of ancient microbial life. Perseverance landed on the surface of Mars on February 18, and since landing, has been performing various checks on systems and subsystems preparing to get to work.

SuperCam has been recording sounds from Mars and sending them back to Earth, allowing scientists to hear what Mars sounds like. Researchers have said that the audio recorded by SuperCam is of "remarkable quality" and has allowed researchers to do science with the first sounds ever recorded on the surface of Mars. Anyone wanting to hear what Mars sounds like can hit the source above and listen to the audio files on the official NASA press release.