The mars rover, a metal machine with six wheels sits on the beach of Mono Lake near outcroppings of tufa.

Mono Lake and NASA Perseverance rover’s Mars mission

For decades NASA has been involved with research at Mono Lake, and today we watch with extra excitement and pride as the Perseverance rover lands with new scientific instruments partially developed and tested right here at our home planet’s “Martian” lake. The new robotic drill for mineral sampling and caching tested at Mono Lake is key to the mission’s scientific focus on finding out whether there was ever any life on Mars in the past.

The NASA and JPL teams test a prototype robotic drill on the shore of Mono Lake in 2010. Photo by Geoff McQuilkin.

In 2010, NASA scientists and partners at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory tested computer codes for the drill by boring into tufa near Old Marina. By taking core samples of similar calcium carbonate formations on Mars the researchers hope to find further evidence about the past conditions and perhaps even find evidence of ancient life itself.

The dynamic history of Mono Lake has shown the resilience and peculiarity of life on Earth. Someday soon, its unique geology and extreme conditions may help expand this understanding beyond Earth.

Read more about the Mars mission and Perseverance here.

Watch Perseverance’s landing along with us here.

Scientific American article from 2010: A Wet Run for a Dry Planet: NASA Tests Drilling Technology in the Desert with Mars Sample Return in Mind

Top photo by Geoff McQuilkin.