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NASA’s rover makes an important discovery — and collects an ‘astounding diversity of samples’

NASA’s rover makes an important discovery — and collects an ‘astounding diversity of samples’

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to: Tanya Banner

NASA’s Perseverance helicopter and Ingenuity helicopter landed on the surface of Mars in February 2021. (File photo) © dpa/NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

In a river delta on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover makes a significant discovery. Now researchers have to be patient.

Pasadena – As the US Space Agency NASA An area called Jezero Crater as the landing site for perseverance rover On the Mars Chosen, the officials already had a plan: they wanted to use the robot to explore an area that looked like a river delta on images previously taken by space probes. Perseverance has been exploring the delta since July 2022 – and is now providing particularly important samples.

“We chose Jezero crater for the Perseverance Exploration because we thought it had the best chance of obtaining scientifically excellent samples,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s director of science. The rover has collected an “incredible variety of specimens” that will be brought back to Earth by another future Mars mission. “I think it’s safe to say that these are two of the most important samples we’ll collect on this mission,” said David Schuster, who is responsible for retrieving samples from Mars.

NASA’s Perseverance rover discovers organic materials on Mars

The delta in which the Mars probe is located was formed about 3.5 billion years ago. It marks the place where the Martian River flowed into a lake in the past. The Perseverance Chariot is currently studying sedimentary rocks in the delta that formed when particles of various sizes settled in a once humid environment. “The rocks we examined contain the highest concentration of organic matter found during the mission so far,” said Ken Farley, Project Scientist for Perseverance, at a NASA news conference. “Organic molecules are the building blocks of life, so it’s very interesting that we have rocks deposited in a lake in a habitable environment that contains organic matter.”

The rocks we examined contain the highest concentration of organic matter found during the mission so far.

According to NASA, the SHERLOC “perseverance” instrument actually took a sample on July 20, where researchers found a class of organic molecules related to sulfate minerals. The sulfate minerals in sedimentary rocks can provide important information about the aquatic environment in which they formed. “This relationship indicates that both sulfate and organic matter were deposited, preserved, and concentrated in this area during lake evaporation,” explains Sherlock scientist Sunanda Sharma. “Personally, I find these results very moving because I feel we are in the right place at a very critical time and with the right tools.”

Mars: organic molecules found in a habitable zone

NASA uses the term “organic molecules” to describe a large number of compounds that are composed primarily of carbon and usually contain hydrogen and oxygen atoms. It can also contain other elements such as nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorous. However, there are also chemical processes in which such molecules are formed without the intervention of biological life – such a discovery does not necessarily have to be a sign of past life on Mars. Indeed, “perseverance” and its predecessor, Curiosity roaming Already before Organic matter found on the surface of Mars. But the fact that it was found this time in an area that has been shown to have held liquid water in the past, which would therefore have been habitable, is crucial evidence for the researchers.

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“While the discovery of this class of organic matter alone does not mean that life definitely was there, these observations are similar to some of the things we’ve seen here on Earth,” Sharma explains. “Simply put, if this treasure hunt is a search for possible signs of life on another planet, organic matter is the leader. And we get stronger and stronger evidence as we move through the delta.”

NASA and ESA want to get soil samples from Mars to Earth

After these important discoveries, scientists want to immediately act and examine the material in detail. However, researchers will have to be patient for a while before they can conduct a detailed research on the organic matter that was found. “As capable as our persevering instruments are, more conclusions about the contents of the sample will have to wait for it to return to Earth,” Farley says. so called Mars sample return missionwhere NASA with European Space Agency ESA Collaborating, they are said to have collected Mars samples from “Perseverance”. Collect using two small helicopters And return it to Earth – but not until 2030, the exact date has not yet been established. (Tab)

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