Scraping away at rocks on Mars’ surface, the Perseverancerover has taken a “look at something no one’s ever seen. The rover has been on Mars since October 25, studying the South Sétah region of the Jezero Crater as part of Nasa’s hunt for extraterrestrial life – but it took a break lately when the sun obstructed contact between Earth and Mars for the space agency.
In addition to seeking microbial life, the rover will bring back samples of Martian geology to help experts better understand the planet’s climate history. It scraped away at the foreign rocks with its abrading instrument to study the minerals within.
“I’m peering inside to see something no one has ever seen before. I crunched a little portion of this rock to remove the top layer and see what was beneath. The rover’s official Twitter account wrote, “Zeroing in on my next target for #SamplingMars.”
Inside one of the crater’s stratified rocks, the rover discovered a circular feast of minerals and silt, which scientists can use to determine when the material was generated and what the environment was like. For example, the Jezero Crater was recently discovered to be the site of an old river delta, and the presence of water makes it more plausible that there was life on Mars.
Perseverance has 43 sample tubes on board to bring back Martian trash for researchers to analyze. It recently gathered its first “perfect” rock sample (after a previous selection mysteriously went missing.) The space agency is likely to take a new model from this location.
If that’s the case, these rocks could be considerably older than the previously discovered ones. In August 2021, Vivian Sun, one of the mission’s scientists at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, said, “There are potentially older rocks in the ‘South Sétah’ region ahead of us, so having this younger sample can help us recreate the complete chronology of Jezero.”
For about nine months, the Perseverance rover has been in Jezero Crater, a dried-up lake bed on Mars. Since then, the rover’s science mission has progressed to the point that it is now scouring the surface of Mars for fascinating rocks to sample. For example, it recently revealed a circular area of granite that had never seen the faint light of Martian day before. Perseverance is on the lookout for rock structures that could disclose Mars’ geologic history, as well as evidence of past life on the planet.
According to the far-fetched theory, if anything once survived on Mars, it was when liquid water flowed on the surface. However, scientists recently discovered that at least part of the rocks in Jezero is igneous, indicating they come from the planet’s interior. In addition, early studies showed that the lake in Jezero was subjected to violent flash floods in the past.
The rover will eventually arrive at Jezero’s western side, where a delta previously fed into the lake. Based on where bacteria tend to settle on Earth, experts believe that’s where any microfossils are most likely to be found.
If recent social media posts provide any indication, the rover is having a blast. It swung past a couple of enormous rock outcrops last month, and it appreciated some pretty layered rocks the previous week. In addition, the rover’s team revealed yesterday that they’re getting closer to deciding on the following sample destination.