‘Longest extinct volcano on Mars?’: Perseverance rovers’ new discoveries a treasure trove for future scientists

Is there water on Mars? Is there life on Mars?

These and several other issues have fascinated space scientists and ordinary people on Earth for a very long time. Meanwhile, scientific advances related to Mars missions have revealed astonishing information that decodes the red planet.

The latest results from NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover revealed that the place where explorers have been driving since the landing in February is probably formed by red-hot magma.

NASA has noted that the crucial findings will help accurately date the critical events in the history of the Jezero crater, as well as the rest of the planet.

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Scientists studying the samples said recent results showed that the rocks in the crater had interacted with water several times during the eons, and that some contained organic molecules.

The results were presented during a news briefing at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in New Orleans on Wednesday (December 15). Perseverance Project Researcher Ken Farley of Caltech in Pasadena said, “I was beginning to despair that we would never find the answer.”

“But then our PIXL instrument got a good look at the worn part of a rock from the area nicknamed ‘South Séítah’, and it all became clear: the crystals in the rock supplied the smoking gun,” he added.

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“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 will have great things to choose from! ” he added.

How does Perseverance collect samples?

Perseverance rover is on a multi-mission – Mars Sample Return – as it collects rock samples from Mars in search of ancient microscopic life. The mission seeks to bring selected tubes back to Earth.

The samples will allow future scientists to study them with powerful laboratory equipment that is too large to send to Mars.

To collect the sample, the drill at the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm grinds the rock surfaces to allow other instruments, such as the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), to study them.

PIXL uses X-ray fluorescence to map the elemental composition of rocks.


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