NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover makes surprising discoveries


“A good geology student will tell you that such a texture indicates the rock that was formed when crystals grew and settled in a slowly cooling magma – for example, a thick lava flow, lava lake or magma chamber,” Farley said. “The rock was then modified by water several times, making it a treasure trove that will allow future scientists to date events in Jezero, better understand the period when water was more common on the surface, and reveal the planet’s early history. Mars Sample Return is going to have amazing things to choose from! ” The multi-mission Mars Sample Return campaign began with Perseverance, which collects rock samples from Mars in search of ancient microscopic life. Of Perseverance’s 43 test tubes, six have been sealed to date – four with rock cores, one with a Mars atmosphere and one containing “witness” material to observe any contamination that the rover may have brought from Earth. The Mars Sample Return seeks to bring selected tubes back to Earth, where generations of scientists will be able to study them with powerful laboratory equipment that is far too large to send to Mars.

It remains to be seen whether the olivine-rich rock is formed in a thick lava lake that cools on the surface or in an underground chamber that was later exposed by erosion. “Curiosity also discovered organic matter at its landing site in Gale Crater,” said Luther Beegle, SHERLOC’s chief investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “What SHERLOC adds to the story is its ability to map the spatial distribution of organic matter inside rocks and relate these organic matter to minerals found there. This helps us understand the environment in which the organic matter is formed. Several analyzes need to be performed to determine the production method for the identified organic substances. “

Confirmation of organic matter is not a confirmation that life once existed in Jezero and left revealing signs (biosignatures). There are both biological and non-biological mechanisms that create organic matter. The preservation of organic matter inside ancient rocks – regardless of origin – at both the Gale and Jezero craters means that potential biosignatures (signs of life, whether past or present) can also be preserved. “This is a question that may not be resolved until the samples are returned to Earth, but the conservation of organic matter is very exciting. When these samples are returned to Earth, they will be a source of scientific study and discovery for many years. , “said Beegle.

Also good news for Mars Sample Return is the discovery of organic compounds with the SHERLOC instrument (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals). The carbonaceous molecules are not only in the interior of ground stone, SHERLOC analyzed, but in the dust of non-ground stone. Organic molecules

Along with its rock-core sampling capabilities, Perseverance has brought the first ground-penetrating radar to the surface of Mars. RIMFAX (Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment) creates a “radar chart” of underground functions up to about 33 feet (10 meters) deep. Data for this first released radar diagram were collected as the rover drove over a ridge from the “Crater Floor Fractured Rough” geological unit into the Séítah geological unit. ‘Radargram’

A key goal of Perseverance’s mission to Mars is astrobiology, including the search for evidence of ancient 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 cache Mars rocks and regolith (broken rocks and dust). The ridge has several rock formations with a visible downward slope. With RIMFAX data, Perseverance researchers now know that these angled rock layers continue at the same angle well below the surface. The radar chart also shows the project of the Séítah rock layer below those of Crater Floor Fractured Rough. The results further confirm the science team’s belief that the creation of Séítah preceded Crater Floor Fractured Rough. The ability to observe geological features even below the surface adds a new dimension to the team’s geological mapping capabilities on Mars. More on persistence

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