Perseverance finds the conditions in which life can flourish

The persistent rover has made an exciting discovery on Mars, locating the building blocks of life in a sample from an area of ​​Jezero crater where there was once abundant liquid water. The organic molecules he discovered can form in various ways including inorganic processes, so it’s not evidence of life there – but it does show that life could have thrived there millions of years ago.

NASA’s rover puts its robotic arm around a rocky outcrop called “Skinner Ridge” in Jezero Crater on Mars. Composed of multiple images, this mosaic shows layered sedimentary rocks facing a cliff in the delta, as well as one of the sites where the rover scraped a circular patch to analyze the rock formation. NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS

As the chariot of perseverance continues its explorations of the Jezero delta The second scientific campaign (The first scientific expedition was to explore the floor of Jezero crater), the samples were collected as it went. A particularly interesting specimen was collected from a 3-foot-wide outcrop rock called the Wildcat Ridge, which was collected by the rover on July 20.

When the sample from Wildcat was studied using Perseverance’s SHERLOC instrument (Survey of Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organic Materials and Chemicals), the researchers discovered that the sample contained organic molecules. these The basic building blocks of life You have It was previously discovered on the surface of Mars By the Curiosity rover at Gale Crater, but in the case of the recent discovery, particles were found in sedimentary rocks near sulfate minerals that form in water.

Ken Farley, Project Scientist for Perseverance, said at statement. “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 conclusions regarding what is in the Wildcat Ridge sample will have to wait until they are returned to Earth for in-depth study as part of the agency’s Mars sample return campaign.”

NASA hopes to return the samples collected by perseverance to Earth through it Mars sample return mission in the 2030s, allowing in-depth study of Mars samples.

“I have studied Martian habitability and geology for most of my career and know firsthand the amazing scientific value of returning a carefully collected collection of Martian rocks back to Earth,” said Laurie Lichen, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “That we are weeks away from releasing amazing samples of perseverance and just years of bringing them to Earth so that scientists can study them in great detail is truly extraordinary. We will learn a lot.”

Editors’ Recommendations