NASA’s Perseverance rover is looking at signs of ancient life on Mars, and has now collected some of the most promising samples from the Red Planet to date.
According to NASAIn this study, several rock samples containing organic matter were found at Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide crater that scientists believe was once a river delta that formed about 3.5 billion years ago.
“Jezero was chosen for this task because … it allows us to explore an ancient habitable environment (and) allows us to search for evidence of possible Martin life in rocks that were deposited at that time, about 3 and a half billion years ago. Prior to that, a project scientist said Perseverance Ken Farley in a A scoreboard about the rover results.
“I want to stress that this mission is not looking for surviving life, things that are still alive today. Instead, we’re looking at the very distant past, when the climate of Mars was very different from what it is today,” Farley added.
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perseverance Launched in July 2020, and landed in February 2021 at Jezero Crater. NASA says that since July 7 this year, the rover has collected four delta samples – bringing the total number of “scientifically disguised” rock samples collected to 12.
Mars rocks with organic matter
Perseverance is currently studying sedimentary rocks in the delta. The rover had previously explored the floor of the Jezero Crater, and found igneous rocks. The contrast between the two, Farley said, “provides us with a rich understanding of the geological history after the crater was formed and a diverse sample collection.” new version.
For example, the project scientist referred to aggregated clay stones containing “interesting organic compounds.”
With the help of a tool called Surveying Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals, or SHERLOC, organic molecules were found in “Wildcat Ridge,” a 3-foot-wide rock believed to have formed from clay and fine sand in the evaporation of a saltwater lake billions of years ago.
“We’re obviously discovering a bigger story than what’s going on at Jezero Crater. We’ve found signals that we think may be from organic matter on every target we’ve observed with SHERLOC so far,” said Sherlock scientist Sunanda Sharma. in the painting.
Sharma added that this was not “unexpected”, as it is consistent with previous research. “However, he says that organic matter appears to persist in the very harsh Martian surface environment, which is very exciting for us.”
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According to NASA, the Curiosity Mars rover has previously found evidence of organic matter in rock powder samples Back in 2013. persevere too Discovered organic matter At Jezero Crater before, but the latest discovery was made in an area with conditions that would have allowed life to exist in the distant past, scientists say.
“The fact that organic matter is found in such sedimentary rocks – known to preserve fossils of ancient life here on Earth – is important,” Farley said.
“However, as capable as our instruments aboard the Perseverance are, more conclusions about what is in the Wildcat Ridge sample will have to wait until it is brought back to Earth for in-depth study as part of the (NASA and European Space Agency) Mars sample return. Campaign.”