Humans will return a rock to the surface of Mars after 600,000 years

(ORDO NEWS) — A fragment of the Sayh al Uhaymir 008 (or SaU 008) meteorite will be sent on the NASA Perseverance 2020 rover mission on Thursday – about 600,000 years after it left the Red Planet and about 1,000 years after it arrived on Earth.

Perseverance is going to use SaU 008 to calibrate its sensitive scanners and instruments after landing, viewing it as a reference point for other rocks and materials it will encounter on its journey across the surface of Mars.

There is still a lot we don’t know about the geological structure of Mars, and a piece of rock that we know comes from a planet – and has already been thoroughly analyzed – would be a useful comparison point.

“This little rock has a real history,” said Caroline Smith, chief keeper of meteorites at the Natural History Museum in the UK.

“It formed about 450 million years ago, was torn away from Mars by an asteroid or comet about 600,000 to 700,000 years ago, and then fell to Earth; we don’t know exactly when, maybe 1000 years ago. And now he is returning to Mars.”

The meteorite SaU 008 was found in Oman in 1999, and the SaU 008 fragment has been part of the collection of the Natural History Museum since 2000.

The tiny bubbles of gas trapped in a Martian rock match exactly the atmospheric conditions of Mars, so we know where it came from.

Mission Perseverance, with a small piece of SaU 008 meteorite on board, is scheduled to launch on 30 July. You can watch it all live.

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