NASA’s probe has found samples of organic matter on Mars

During the past few months, the Mars rover "Perseverance" has been exploring the delta of an ancient river in the "Jezero" crater of Mars. According to the members of the mission team, the existence of this delta was one of the main reasons for sending the rover to this area and this research site has met expectations well. collected from the delta region, which show that this part of Mars in the ancient past may have been able to support Earth-like organisms and may even now retain signs of such microbial life.

During the past few months, the Mars rover "Perseverance" has been exploring the delta of an ancient river in the "Jezero" crater of Mars. According to the members of the mission team, the existence of this delta was one of the main reasons for sending the rover to this area and this research site has met expectations well. collected from the delta region, which show that this part of Mars in the ancient past may have been able to support Earth-like organisms and may even now retain signs of such microbial life.

One of the natural features of the Jezrou delta, which has recently been sampled and studied by Persistence, is a rock with a width of 0.9 meters. The mission team calls it "Wildcat Ridge", it's very interesting. Wildcat is a fine-grained lichen that probably formed on the bottom of an ancient lake. The rover's "SHERLOC" instrument showed that the rock is full of organic matter that is spatially associated with sulfur-containing minerals (sulfates).

Sherloc instrument scientist Sunanda Sharma In this regard, he said: "These signs indicate that when the lake was evaporating, both sulfates and organic matter were deposited and preserved and concentrated in this area."

He added: "Roy Earth, sulfate deposition is known to preserve organic matter and can contain signs of life, called biosignatures. This makes these samples and this set of observations the most interesting findings of the mission so far, and fulfills some of the expectations of delta front exploration.

BingMag.com NASA’s probe has found samples of organic matter on Mars

The Persistence rover sampling a rock known as the Wildcat Ridge on Mars
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

However, Farley and Sharma emphasized that these Martian compounds cannot be considered as definitive biological symbols. Because organic matter can be produced and transported by only geological processes, and the data collected by Persistence do not yet provide precise information about the origin of these samples. Therefore, it will be very difficult for the mission team to make a decision using only the rover's observations.

That is why, if all goes according to plan, the samples collected in early 2033 by the joint mission of NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are returned to Earth. On Earth, scientists around the world can examine the samples with different and more advanced instruments than those on the rover.

The Perseverance rover carries 43 sample tubes, 15 of which have been sealed so far. . 12 tubes contain rock cores, one contains samples from the rover's failed first attempt, and two are "control tubes". The mission team will use these tubes to determine which materials, if any, in the Martian samples may be terrestrial contaminants.

The sample return mission will consist of an ESA orbiter and a NASA lander. They are supposed to be launched to Mars in late 2027 and early 2028, respectively. Perseverance will go to the lander and put the samples in it, and then it will reach the orbiter with a rocket from the surface of Mars and be transported to Earth. They have high hopes for the lander. However, after more than 10 years, NASA's "Curiosity" rover, with the same body structure and nuclear energy system, is still operating inside Gale Crater.

But These two space agencies have a backup plan in mind. Persistence collects two samples from each rock, one for storage on the probe and one for storage in one or more storage-like locations on the floor of the tidal crater. Therefore, if Perseverance cannot directly deliver the samples, the return lander will land near the samples and collect the tubes one by one using two rover helicopters.

These helicopters will fly over the lander and very They will be similar to the "Ingenuity" helicopter, which is still strong and active after 31 flights on Mars. But on the other hand, sample collection helicopters should be a little bigger than Ingenious because they have to be on wheels to move to the samples.

The persistence team has already chosen a possible location to store the samples. This flat area of the tidal crater floor can be a safe place for the lander. Lori Glaze, NASA's director of planetary science, said: "On October 19, team members will hold a do-or-die meeting to find out if they are ready to place samples in this area." .

If the intended site is confirmed, the Perseverance will store 10 to 11 tubes containing samples during an operation that will last about two months.

Cover photo: Mars rover Persistence sampling the rock known as Skinner's Mane
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *