Mars rover Perseverance discovers unusual rocks

(ORDO NEWS) — Perseverance will eventually send samples from Mars to Earth that will allow us to detect any potential ancient signs of life, so scientists need to select rocks that are most likely to retain complex organic molecules – fine-grained rocks.

The Perseverance rover, NASA‘s newest rover, continues its journey across the surface of the red planet. Its mission consists of four separate goals: to determine whether life existed or still exists on Mars, to gain a better understanding of the climate on Mars, to better understand the geology of Mars, and to prepare for human exploration of the planet.

This 1,025-kilogram rover explores an ancient delta in Jezero Crater on Mars. There, he discovered fine-grained rocks that are most suitable for preserving traces of ancient life on Mars.

The lake crater is about 45 km in diameter and is believed to have once been flooded with water when Mars was covered by a thicker atmosphere that protected its surface.

Inside the crater there is a rich fan-delta deposit. When the valley network formed on Mars, there was a lake in the crater. In addition to the delta, dotted columns and inverted channels are also visible in the crater.

After analyzing the delta and channels, it was concluded that the lake inside the crater most likely formed during a period that was characterized by continuous surface runoff.

In preparation for a future mission to bring samples back to Earth for detailed analysis, the research robot is looking for places to collect samples for packaging and storage.

In the mission blog, Lydia Kivrak, a University of Florida student working with Perseverance rover researchers, talks about how this class of rocks can conserve organic molecules and how they are found in the Hogwallow Flats area.

The building blocks of life on Earth are organic molecules made up primarily of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. However, in the past, small organic molecules have been found even in meteorites and on Mars without the presence of life, so the presence of organic molecules in rock does not necessarily indicate life.

However, as a biosignature, it can be detected by the presence of a large or complex organic molecule, or by the detection of specific patterns of organic molecules. For example, as a result of solar radiation and reactions with rocks and the atmosphere, large complex molecules eventually break down into smaller ones.

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