According to NASA, the Perseverance Mars rover is preparing to collect the first rock samples from ancient lake bottom locations as its mission to look for signs of past life has begun in earnest.
The milestone will take place within two weeks in a scientifically interesting area of the Jezero Crater called the “Crater Floor Fracture Draft”.
“When Neil Armstrong first took it sample From the calm waters 52 years ago, he began the process of rewriting what humanity knew about the Moon, “said Thomas Zulbuchen, Deputy Director of Science at NASA Headquarters.
“I hope the first and subsequent samples of Perseverance from the Jezero Crater will do the same for Mars.”
Perseverance landed on the Red Planet on February 18, traveling about a kilometer south of the landing site during the summer, project scientist Ken Farley told reporters.
“Now we are looking at a far distant environment in the past, billions of years ago,” he said in a briefing.
The team believes that the crater was once the home of an ancient lake that was repeatedly buried and withdrawn, and could create the conditions necessary for life.
Analysis of the sample reveals clues about the chemical and mineral composition of the rock. For example, it becomes clear whether it was formed by a volcano or originated from sedimentary rocks.
In addition to bridging the gap in the geological understanding of the region by scientists, Rover explores possible signs of ancient microbes.
First, Perseverance deploys a 7-foot (2 meter) long robotic arm to determine exactly where to take the sample.
The rover then uses a polishing tool to scrape the top layer of rock to expose the unweathered surface.
One of the devices called SuperCam fires a laser at the rock and reads the resulting plume.
Farley said small cliffs with fine rocks could have formed from the mud of the lake, although it may take a few more months for perseverance to reach the outcrops. It’s a very good place to look for. “
A perseverance analysis of each rock has an untouched geological “twin” that Rover scoops up, seals, and stores under the belly.
Ultimately, NASA is planning a return mission with the European Space Agency to collect stored samples and return them for laboratory analysis on Earth sometime in the 2030s.
Only then will scientists be able to say more confidently whether they really found signs of ancient life.
© 2021 AFP
Quote: NASA Rover preparing to take the first Martian rock sample (July 22, 2021) https: //phys.org/news/2021-07-nasa-rover-mars-samples.html Obtained from 22nd July 2021
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NASA Rover preparing to take the first Martian rock sample
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