Of course, we won’t know for sure until about ten years from now, when the monsters swept up by the persistent American rover on Mars from the bottom of the Red Planet’s crater reach Earth. However, scientists are happy about it four Articleswhich simultaneously appeared in trade magazines on Thursday night Sciences And the science progressabout what they can detect in those samples.
“From a sampling perspective, this is a really huge result,” University of California geochemist David Schuster, co-author of three of the four study articles, said in a press release about these preliminary findings.
The excitement comes from the assertion that what Perseverance has amassed in its first year on Mars is so-called igneous rock: a substance that slowly solidified from previously liquid magma. Preliminary analysis using the same Mars rover instruments also indicates that the material was affected by water.
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Planetary geologist Sebastian de Wit, affiliated with TU Delft, among others, describes the researchers’ enthusiasm with logic. This fits this stage of the task. When you see these kinds of solid results and the promise of all the great study material still on Mars, it automatically starts to itch a little bit.
Scientists believe they can assemble an accurate geological timeline of the area with a more detailed chemical analysis of the materials found in the Earth’s laboratories. This relates not only to the exact period in which the crater was filled with superheated liquid rock – possibly the result of one or more volcanic eruptions, the researchers speculate – but also definitively the period in which the crater turned into a boulder-filled lake. Water in which potentially suitable conditions for the emergence of life exist.
De Vet describes the study as a good example of how a geological view of Mars has shifted from the history of the planet as a whole to a more detailed history of local areas thanks to satellite missions and Mars rovers. “Sixty years ago we were at most able to fill out a brochure, and now we have a complete encyclopedia of the history of Mars.”
The potential for these kinds of discoveries is why perseverance roams the so-called Jezero crater. That crater was once formed by a meteorite impact, but it may also have been the site of a lake nearly four billion years ago. These preliminary findings now support this suspicion. So it turns out to be exactly the kind of place NASA was hoping for: a location where you can not only understand its geologic history, but where, as an ultimate bonus, you also have an initial chance of finding evidence of past life on Mars.
Perseverance has not finished collecting soil samples yet. In total, Marswagen has 43 tubes, of which twelve are currently filled. In the second half of this decade, NASA wants to launch a mission with its European counterpart, ESA, to collect the filled tubes. They must then hit the ground running sometime in their early thirties for their analysis.
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