The Perseverance rover began taking samples from the river delta that once flowed into the Jezero crater. These samples will be preserved and later sent to Earth to search for traces of life in them.
Perseverance starts looking for life on Mars
On May 28, the Perseverance rover made the first soil sample in the delta of an ancient river near the Jezero crater. Since February 2021, when the rover landed, this moment has been key in its mission.
Over the past 15 months, it has travelled several kilometers along the bottom of the crater. It turned out to be covered with volcanic rocks, which allowed it to be dated by its isotopic composition. Finally, in April of this year, it reached the river delta, which billions of years ago flowed into a depression that was then filled with water.
But the delta river is composed of sedimentary rocks that were deposited here by the river. On Earth, such places are simply teeming with life, so here scientists hope to find, if not the remains of organisms, then substances that could not have been formed without their participation.
Research is just beginning
The delta is located about 40 meters above the crater bottom. Perseverance took a sample from the lowest, and therefore the oldest layer of rocks. Then it will go up the delta, assessing where it is better to take samples, and then return to the path, making more and more samples.
But you shouldn’t wait for the results right away. The samples, which have the shape of flat cylinders with a diameter of 5 centimeters, will be preserved and will wait for a shelter on the device that will take them from Mars and bring them to Earth.
The launch of the Mars Sample Return mission is planned by the end of the 2020s. It is for it that Perseverance collects and preserves samples. It is expected that they will get to Earth laboratories no earlier than 2031. Most likely, the final solution to whether there is life on Mars is not earlier than this time.
According to www.nature.com
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