NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has been hard at work using the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) instrument to help determine the best rocks to sample and look for signs of ancient life. Mounted on the rover’s robotic arm, SHERLOC is the only instrument that can directly detect organics, which are building blocks for life. Because it characterizes the chemical composition of rocks, SHERLOC can also help scientists understand whether any of the rocks formed in an ancient habitable environment. SHERLOC features spectrometers, a laser, and cameras, including WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering). WATSON is a color camera that takes close-up images of rock grains and surface textures. This video provides an instrument update by Eva Scheller, one of the science team members from Caltech.
For more information on Perseverance, visit https://mars.nasa.gov/perseverance.