spaceSpace and Physics

Perseverance Creates An Accidental Zen Garden On Mars


Dr. Alfredo Carpineti

Senior Staff Writer & Space Correspondent

clockMay 5 2022, 12:13 UTC
A classic Perseverance Selfie. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A classic Perseverance Selfie. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover has been driving, mostly by itself (occasionally accompanied by Ingenuity), for the last several weeks to reach its new target. On its way, it seems to have created a lovely composition between its tracks and some Martian rocks that looks a little like a Japanese zen garden.

Zen gardens, also known as Japanese dry gardens or rock gardens, are a centuries-old tradition from the Land of the Rising Sun. They often feature rocks and sand, two features Mars has plenty of. They are intended to imitate the essence of nature, often gravel or sand is raked into ripples to imitate water, for example, so it's somewhat peculiar to see science imitating art imitating life on Mars.


The image, highlighted by the rover's Twitter team on Earth, shows a rock surrounded by tracks from the rover's wheels that have created ripples in the Martian sand. 

After its recent self-driving jaunt, which inadvertently caused the first-ever astronomical “hit & run”, Perseverance reached the ancient river delta, the crucial scientific objective for the mission. The rover has spent the last week parked on a location named the Enchanted lake at the edge of the delta, where the team had to assess if it was worth sampling rocks there for eventual delivery to Earth in the next decade.

They made the decision to save the sampling pod for another location and the rover is now moving east to Hawksbill Gap, another exciting place to sample and study the sediments left over from eons ago when water still flowed on the Red Planet.

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