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NASA told her Perseverance Mars rover Core rock samples were collected in an area that scientists have long considered a prime candidate for finding signs of ancient microbial life.
In an update, the team said their latest findings provide more detail on the area, as the rover took four samples from an ancient river delta in the 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater since July.
In total, the rover collected 12 masked rock samples.
The crater delta was formed about 3.5 billion years ago at the confluence of the Martian River and a lake.
Delta sedimentary rocks were formed when particles of different sizes settled in the environment.
During its first scientific expedition, the rover explored the crater floor, finding igneous rocks.
“We chose Jezero crater for perseverance to explore because we thought it had the best chance of providing scientifically excellent samples—and now we know we sent the rover to the right location,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science in Washington. in the current situation. “The first two science campaigns have resulted in an astonishing diversity of samples for return to Earth through the Mars Sample Return Campaign.”
The delta, with its diverse sedimentary rocks, contrasts beautifully with the igneous rocks – formed from the crystallization of magma – discovered in pit floorPerseverance Project Scientist Ken Farley said, “This juxtaposition provides us with a rich understanding of the geological history after the crater was formed and a variety of samples. For example, we found sandstone bearing grains and rocks. Fragments generated far from Jezero Crater – and clay stone that contains interesting organic compounds.”
One of those rocks is “Wildcat Ridge,” which likely formed billions of years ago.
Perseverance has eroded some of the rock surface so you can analyze the area by scanning the habitable environments with the Raman & Luminescence for Organic Materials and Chemicals (SHERLOC) tool.
NASA said Sherlock samples They are found to be characterized by a class of organic molecules spatially related with those of sulfate minerals.
The presence of organic molecules, which can contain elements such as sulfur, is a potential biosignature.
While Perseverance and Curiosity Mars have found evidence or organic matter before, the discovery was made in an area where sediments and salts were deposited in a lake under conditions where life would have existed.
“In the distant past, the sand, mud, and salts that now make up the Wildcat Ridge’s specimen were deposited under conditions where life would have thrived,” Farley explained. “The fact that organic matter is found in such sedimentary rocks – known to preserve fossils of ancient life here on Earth – is important. However, as persistent as our instruments aboard have, additional inferences about what is in the Wildcat Ridge sample will have to waiting until they are returned to Earth for an in-depth study as part of the agency’s Mars sample return campaign.”
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