(ORDO NEWS) — During the analysis of the rocks of the Lake crater, scientists found traces of the interaction of rocks with liquid water and the presence of organic compounds in the Martian earth.
Although the latter cannot unequivocally testify to the presence of life on Mars (both today and in the past), this confirms the potential suitability of the Red Planet for colonization.
In February 2021, the Perseverance rover began its mission to the Red Planet by landing in Jezero Crater , an ancient impact crater that once contained a vast lake.
Scientists were especially interested in the delta of the Jezero drainage river, in the sediments of which they hoped to find traces of Martian microorganisms.
However, another mystery lay in wait at the bottom of the crater: instead of the expected sedimentary rocks, the researchers found volcanic rocks containing minerals, indicating contact with water.
For their formation, it was required that water interact with the cooled magma, carving cavities in it and leading to the deposition of dissolved salts on their walls.
Salt deposits were found using the SHERLOC instrument, mounted on the rover’s robotic arm and equipped with a Raman spectrometer.
It was SHERLOC who discovered possible organic compounds in salt chambers inside rocks, although it is impossible to say exactly what these compounds are.
Curiously, according to SHERLOC data, the Lake of the Lake Lake was fresh at first, but then the salt content in it increased significantly, and it turned into a miniature sea.
So far, all the samples collected by Perseverance are stored in sealed test tubes that the rover carries with it, but over time it will leave them in a highly visible place.
In the future, the samples will be collected during a special space mission to deliver the fruits of the Perseverance mission to Earth, where scientists can study them in the laboratory.
The presence of organic compounds – chemicals based on carbon – does not always indicate the presence of living beings.
Organics can also be formed during geochemical processes: for example, during high-temperature interaction of rocks and water, methane can be released.
Nevertheless, scientists do not lose hope of identifying traces of ancient Martian life in such samples: this will not only clarify the geological history of the Red Planet, but also allow a better assessment of its suitability for human colonization.
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