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NASA’s Perseverance rover detected potential biosignatures on Mars & More Latest News Here

 

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance (NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS/Handout via REUTERS)

The Perseverance rover reached a major milestone in its search for traces of life on Mars with the taking of “the most precious” samples collected so far, which contain potential biosignatures that will need to be confirmed upon return to EarthNASA announced this Thursday.

Even this is not proof that life once existed on the red planet but it is the best chance yet of one day being able to detect possible ancient microbial life with certainty.

A biological signature may have been produced by the presence of life, but also by an inert process. To consider this biosignature definitive, the samples must be analyzed by powerful laboratory instruments on Earth.

NASA plans to bring them back through another mission before 2033.

“I think we can say that they are going to be, and that they are already the most precious rock samples ever collected,” he declared at a press conference. David Shusterscientist working on these samples.

Two cuts were taken drilling in a rock called “Wildcat ridge”, approximately one meter in size and located in a delta that formed about 3.5 billion years ago at the intersection between a river and an ancient lake.

It is particularly interesting because it is a sedimentary rock that seems to have formed at the moment when the water of the lake evaporated.

“Wildcat ridge” also has “great biosignature conservation potential,” said Shuster, an expert at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Perseverance discovered magma in its explorations on Mars (NASA)
The Perseverance discovered magma in its explorations on Mars (NASA)

Scanned separately by an instrument at the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm, the rock revealed the presence of organic compounds – the largest amount detected since the start of the mission a year and a half ago. These compounds – made especially of carbon and which can contain hydrogen – “are the essential elements of life,” he declared. Ken Farleyin charge of the scientific part of the mission.

These have been detected in much smaller quantities by the rover during previous analyzes in the Jezero crater, which contained the lake, but “as we move into the delta, the indices become stronger and stronger,” he summarized. suanda sharmafrom NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“I personally find these results very impressive, as it seems that we are in the right place with the right instruments, at a pivotal moment,” he said.

“We don’t know yet the significance of these finds, but these rocks are exactly what we came for,” Farley concluded.

Other analyzes of the rover have surprised scientists. At the bottom of the crater, “igneous rocks, that is, rocks crystallized after being melted” were found.Farley declared. This discovery indicates a “active volcanism” and that, possibly, before having water, the crater has housed “a lava lake,” he added.

Samples taken from these rocks and their subsequent analysis on Earth should make it possible to directly determine the age of the Martian surface for the first time.

“It’s something that is only indirectly inferred today,” Farley explained.

A mission is planned in 2028 to retrieve these samples by means of a lander carrying a minicapsule. The rover will roll to the module to place samples there, which will then be transferred to an orbiting spacecraft, which will return to Earth and land in the Utah desert in 2033.

(With information from AFP)

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