NASA’s Mars Rover Snags Incredible Panorama and Basic Samples in Search of Life

NASA’s Mars probe has been busy collecting core rock samples in an area that scientists think is ideal for finding ancient signs of microbial life on Mars. The rover also took some great pictures along the way.

perseverance On its second science campaign, 31 days after Mars (or Sol) dash across nearly 3 miles (5 kilometers) of Mars. The persevering voyage took to the “Old Jezero Crater Delta Threshold” on April 13. Since its arrival, the rover has been collecting core rock samples and taking highly detailed photos.

“We chose Jezero Crater for perseverance to explore because we thought it had the best chance of providing scientifically excellent samples—and now we know we sent the rover to the right location,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate director of science in Washington. “These two first science campaigns have yielded an amazing variety of samples for return to Earth through the Mars Sample Return Campaign.”

The area currently considering persistence, is twenty-eight miles (45 kilometers) wide Jezero Crater. It hosts a delta, an ancient fan-shaped feature that formed about 3.5 billion years ago at the confluence of the Martian River and a lake, according to NASA. During this trip, the Perseverance takes a closer look at the sedimentary delta rocks. During its first expedition, it explored the floor of the crater, revealing igneous rocks that form deep underground from magma, or during times of volcanic activity on the planet’s surface.

So far in its current Jezero Crater campaign, the rover has collected four core rock samples. Scientists hope to be able to find signs of ancient life once samples are returned to Earth. The organic matter they will be looking for will consist of a wide variety of compounds that are primarily carbon and typically include hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Other elements to look for include nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur. The reason to look for these particular molecules, while they don’t require life to exist, is that they are the basic chemical building blocks of life.

He also made his way to perseverance Crater LakeIt took a while to send an incredibly detailed panoramic photo. It’s the most detailed view returned from the Red Planet, consisting of 2.5 billion pixels and generated from 1,118 individual images from Mastercam-Z. You can take in this amazing view in the video above.

“In the distant past, the sand, mud, and salts that now make up the Wildcat Ridge’s specimen were deposited under conditions where life would have thrived,” explained Ken Farley of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. “The fact that organic matter has been found in such sedimentary rocks – known to preserve fossils of ancient life here on Earth – is important. However, as persistent as our instruments aboard have, additional inferences about what is in the Wildcat Ridge sample will have to waiting until they are returned to Earth for an in-depth study as part of the agency’s Mars sample return campaign.”