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TechThe Perseverance rover from NASA keeps looking for prehistoric life on Mars.

The Perseverance rover from NASA keeps looking for prehistoric life on Mars.

NASA’s Resilience The Mars rover is actively collecting rocks from an ancient river delta.


NASA’s Resilience As part of its search for clues of ancient life, the Mars rover has uncovered fresh rock samples at the bottom of a Martian river.


Since it began on July 7, Perseverance has gathered a total of 12 sedimentary rock samples from a once-flowing river delta in the Jezero Crater. It is currently in the middle of its second Martian rock collection operation.


The river delta was chosen by NASA because it gave the best chances of discovering evidence of prehistoric microbial life. By old, microbial life would have existed when the riverbed was formed some 3.5 billion years ago, assuming NASA ever discovers evidence of it.


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Sedimentary rock is being extracted with perseverance from the Jezero Crater’s Jezero River Lake intersection. The crater is 45 kilometres (28 miles) across.


Perseverance acquired a “incredible diversity” of samples, according to Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science in Washington. These samples will be returned to Earth in the following ten years as part of the Mars Sample Return effort.


According to a news statement by Zurbuchen, “We chose the Jezero Crater for Perseverance to explore because we thought it had the highest possibility of producing scientifically outstanding material. And now we know we sent the rover to the appropriate spot.


NASA intends to send the Sample Retrieval Lander to Mars in 2028 for the return campaign, where it will set down in the Jezero Crater. Two tiny Mars helicopters and a NASA-led Mars rocket will be carried by the lander. NASA scientists won’t be able to determine their exact composition until after it returns the samples to Earth.


But if SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is correct, humans might already be on Mars by the time the rock samples reach the planet’s surface. According to Musk’s most recent wager, 2029 will be the earliest that humans will visit Mars.


Around seven months after taking off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, Perseverance and its twin Ingenuity made a landing on Mars on February 18, 2021.


In its initial expedition, Perseverance examined Jezero’s surface and collected igneous rock, which has crystals that can reveal the precise date of its formation. Igneous rocks develop in molten lava or during volcanic activity, as opposed to sedimentary rocks, which are now gathered.


The rover is equipped with a SuperCam that has a rock-vaporizing laser. During the initial campaign, the laser blasted the boulders to confirm they were volcanic rock covering the crater’s floor.


NASA is able to comprehend the geologic history of the crater because to the two different sorts of materials.


According to Ken Farley, a geologist from Caltech in Pasadena, California, who is working on the Perseverance project, “the delta, with its various sedimentary rocks, contrasts nicely with the volcanic rocks – formed from crystallisation of magma – discovered on the crater floor.”


“This contrast offers us a comprehensive picture of the geologic history that followed the crater’s formation as well as a varied sample collection. We discovered a mudstone that contains fascinating organic compounds as well as a sandstone that has grains and rock fragments that were generated far from Jezero Crater.”


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According to NASA, the newly discovered evidence of organic compounds on Mars is more encouraging than the evidence of organic materials discovered by the Curiosity rover in 2013.


The discovery of organic molecules by Perseverance is noteworthy since it was made in a location “where, in the remote past, sediment and salts were deposited into a lake under conditions in which life may have possibly existed.” These were discovered on Wildcat Ridge, a region of the crater.


The sand, mud, and salts that today make up the Wildcat Ridge sample were deposited under circumstances where life may have thrived in the distant past.


It’s significant that the organic material was discovered in a sedimentary rock that is known for holding onto remains of extinct Earth life. As capable as our instruments are on Perseverance, we won’t be able to draw any further conclusions about what is in the Wildcat Ridge sample until it is sent back to Earth for in-depth analysis as part of the agency’s Mars Sample Return effort, said Farley.

Himanshu Mahawar is the Editor and Founder at Flaunt Weekly.

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