Mars has thousands of weird white rocks. Will they ever reach Earth?

Despite its "Red Planet" nickname, Mars appears to have hundreds of white pebbles on its surface.  

Since early 2021, NASA's Perseverance rover has been exploring the Jezero Crater. Its photographs of nearly 4,000 light-toned, pebble-sized pebbles on the crater floor puzzled scientists. 

"These are very unusual rocks and we're trying to figure out what's been going on," Mars 2020 scientific team member Candice Bedford said during the Lunar and Planetary scientific Conference (LSPC) last month. 

As part of its ambitious Mars Sample Return (MSR) program, NASA is finishing an architectural evaluation of returning Martian pebbles to Earth. 

Scientifically called "floats," the depicted white rocks have been taken and transported from their original environments.  

Some are smooth with crevices, while others appear to be multilayered. Perseverance's onboard instrumentation found that the rocks are dehydrated in water, iron, magnesium, calcium, and salt.  

The crew is interested in these odd rocks because they potentially disclose the Red Planet's past, especially when water would have flooded the Jezero crater, which is now dry.  

Perseverance has found more than 4,000 such rocks, but no "outcrop"—a bedrock of similar qualities that protrudes from the Martian surface.  

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