NASA’s Perseverance rover explores the geologically rich terrain of Mars

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s Perseverance rover is successfully conducting its second science campaign, collecting rock samples in an area that scientists have long considered the most promising for searching for signs of ancient microbial life on Mars.

Since July 7, the rover has collected four samples from the ancient river delta in Lake Jezero Crater, bringing the total number of rock samples taken to 12.

The 45-kilometer-wide Lake Delta contains a delta, an ancient fan-shaped object that formed about 3.5 billion years ago. back at the confluence of a Martian river and lake.

Perseverance is currently investigating delta sediments formed when particles of various sizes settled in what was once an aquatic environment.

Perseverance also studies the Wild Cat Ridge, a rock about 1 meter wide that was formed billions of years ago when mud and fine sand settled in an evaporating salt water lake.

On July 20, the rover sanded down part of the ridge’s surface to analyze the terrain with the SHERLOC instrument.

Analysis showed that the samples contain a class of organic molecules that are spatially correlated with sulfate mineral molecules.

Sulfate minerals found in sedimentary rock layers can provide important information about the aquatic environment in which they formed.

The geological diversity of the samples already in Perseverance is so great that the rover’s team is considering placing test tubes at the base of the delta in about two months.

After Perseverance hides the samples, the rover will continue its exploration of the delta.

“I have studied the habitability and geology of Mars for most of my career, and I know firsthand the incredible scientific value of returning carefully collected Martian rocks to Earth,” said Lori Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“It’s phenomenal that we’re just weeks away from placing exciting Perseverance samples in a cache, and only a few years away from getting them back to Earth where scientists can study them in great detail. We will learn a lot.”


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