Since Viking 1 And 2 Missions that visited Mars in 1976 have encountered evidence that water once flowed on the Martian surface. Pictures collected by the twins Viking The landers and orbiters showed clear signs of ancient flow channels, alluvial deposits, and weathered rocks. Thanks to dozens of additional orbiters, landers and rovers sent after scientists got a clearer picture of what Mars looked like. At the end of this journey, they hope to find evidence (if any) that Mars once supported life and continues to do so today.
We have the latest evidence of Mars’ warm water past, courtesy of NASA Persistence Rover, which continues to explore Jezero Crater and obtain samples for the first Mars sample-return mission. On Friday, June 23, The The rover received its 20th sampleIt was carved out of a rock known as the “Emerald Lake”. Named “Otis Peak,” the sample is part of an outcrop formed by mineral deposits transported by an ancient river, and may contain invaluable geological information about the many places these minerals came from.
After collecting the core sample, Perseverance took a picture with it Sampling and Caching System Cam (CacheCam) in its underbelly. As you can see from the image (below), there are clearly colored areas that correspond to individual minerals that were transported by the river that once flowed into Jezero Crater. Each cobble and fragment in this core sample (called “Otis Peak”) contains information about the age of the conglomerate, the environmental conditions in the river at the time of formation, and whether the river was an ancient microbial habitat (fingers crossed!).
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As Ken Farley, A Persistence A project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech recently explained at NASA Press release:
“The pebbles and rocks found in a river are messengers from afar. While the water that created the Martian river basins Perseverance is now exploring evaporated billions of years ago, the story that water carried remains pure, stored in composite rock.
The Otis Peak core was obtained as part of this PersistenceA third science campaign will explore the upper part of the fan-shaped delta at the western end of the crater. This pile of sedimentary rocks is 40 meters (130 feet) high and is one of the clearest signs that water once flowed on Mars. With this latest simple cache secured, Perseverance is now on its way to a low mountain called “Snowdrift Peak”. Like the “Emerald Lake”, the area is covered by rock formations believed to have been transported to their present location billions of years ago.
Rocks are a good opportunity to sample because of their large surface area, which allows scientists to visually examine many rocks in one image. This allows them to select samples that contain a wide variety of minerals, ensuring that the samples will provide geologic data in a variety of areas. The team plans to observe the rocky terrain the rover will navigate on its way to “Snowdrift Peak” so they can stop and collect samples from particularly promising rocks. Said Farley:
“It remains to be seen if the rocks look interesting enough for closer inspection and possible sampling – literally. We’re taking a page from the past. In the past, prospectors looking for gold or diamonds often looked in rivers to determine whether there were deposits of interest. No need to get up there to see – let the river do its work!
The Persistence The sample cache will be returned to Earth in the coming years Tuesday sample return campaign, a joint mission between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). This campaign will see NASA Sample recovery lander, Samples retrieval helicopters, And Mars Ascent vehicle Collect samples and send them into orbit. Meanwhile, E.S.A Earth Return Orbiter (ERO) will interact with the Ascent vehicle in orbit and carry samples on board and bring them home for analysis. The campaign aims to analyze samples of Martian soil and rock using laboratory equipment too heavy and complex to send to Mars on a robotic explorer.
It is part of a larger field of study known as astrobiology that looks for evidence of life beyond Earth. This search has been underway on Mars for nearly fifty years using robotic orbiters, landers, and rovers. Viking 1 And 2 Missions. Over the past twenty years, thirteen missions from five different space agencies, such as NASA, have undertaken this goal. the soul, opportunity, Curiosity, And Persistence rovers and ESAs Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), of China Tianwen-1 And Lander Shurong Rover, of India Mangalyaan Orbiter, United Arab Emirates (UAE) Emirates Mars Mission.
These robotic explorers will pave the way for crewed exploration missions, which NASA and China hope to send early next decade.
For further reading: NASA