Persevering NASA rover collects puzzle pieces of Mars history

Also, the salts inside these rocks have been spied upon. These salts may have formed when groundwater flowed in and changed the original minerals in the rock, or more likely when the liquid water evaporated, leaving the salts behind. The brine minerals in the first two rock cores may also have trapped small bubbles of ancient Martian water. If present, they could serve as microscopic time capsules, providing clues to the ancient climate and habitability of Mars. Salt minerals are also known on Earth for their ability to preserve signs of ancient life.

The perseverance science team already knew that the lake had already filled the hole; Since when was most uncertain. Scientists could not rule out the possibility that Lake Jezero was a “flash in the pot”: for example, flooding would have quickly filled the impact crater and dried up within 50 years.

But the level of change scientists see in the rock that provided the core samples – as well as the rock the team targeted in its first sampling attempt – suggests that groundwater has been around for a long time.

This groundwater may be related to the lake that existed in Jezero or it may have moved through the rocks long after the lake dried up. While scientists cannot yet determine whether any of the waters that altered these rocks existed for tens of thousands or millions of years, they are more certain that they have been around long enough to make the region most welcoming to microscopic life in the world. past.

“These samples are of high value for future laboratory analysis on Earth,” said Mitch Schulte of NASA Headquarters, mission program scientist. “One day, we may be able to determine the sequence and timing of the environmental conditions represented by the minerals in this rock. This will help answer the general scientific question of the history and stability of liquid water on Mars.”

Next stop, “South Intermediate”

Perseverance is currently searching the crater floor for samples that can be brought back to Earth to answer deep questions about the history of Mars. The promising samples are sealed in titanium tubes that the ship carries in its hull, where they will be stored until Perseverance drops them to be retrieved on a future mission. Perseverance will likely create several “repositories” later in the mission, where the samples will be discarded for a future mission to bring to Earth. The presence of one or more repositories increases the probability that samples of a certain value can be accessed for retrieval on Earth.

The next possible perseverance sample site is just 200 meters away in “South Sitah”, a ridge covered with dunes, rocks and rock fragments that Farley likens to “broken plates”.

The rover’s latest drilling sample represents what is likely one of the smallest layers of rock to be found at the bottom of Jezero crater. South Séitah, on the other hand, will likely be much older and will provide the science team with a better timetable for understanding the events that shaped the crater floor, including its lake.

In early October, all Mars missions will stop directing their spacecraft for several weeks, a precaution during a period called Mars solar conjunction. The persistence in digging south of Sitah is not likely to continue until some time after that.

More about perseverance

The main objective of the Persevere on Mars mission is astrobiologyIncluding the search for signs of ancestral microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and store Martian rocks and regoliths.

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with the European Space Agency, will send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed surface samples and return them to Earth for deep analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s lunar-to-Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis The moon missions will help prepare for human exploration of the red planet.

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