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NASA’s Perseverance Rover May Have Found Signs of Life on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Signs of Life on Mars
NASA’s Perseverance rover looking for signs of life on Mars. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Perseverance rover made a new discovery on Mars. It found that the Jezero Crater, where it landed in February 2021, used to be full of water. This raises the possibility that the rover might have stumbled upon ancient signs of life in the form of fossilized remains.

The rover, accompanied by its retired helicopter, Ingenuity, spotted this evidence with a special radar that can “see” beneath the surface. The radar showed layers of sediment, indicating there was once a lake in the crater. Over time, this lake dried up, leaving behind a huge delta, according to Live Science.

The Perseverance rover collected geological samples from the Jezero Crater on Mars. When these samples come back to Earth, scientists might uncover proof there was once ancient life on the now dry Red Planet. The researchers shared their findings on January 26th in the journal Science Advances.

Different deposits can be seen from orbit

David Paige, the main researcher and a professor of planetary science at UCLA, explained that, when we look at Mars from above, we see various deposits, but we can’t be certain if they are in their original form or if they mark the end of a long geological story. To understand their origin, we need to look beneath the surface.

NASA’s Perseverance rover is an important part of the Mars 2020 mission, which costs $2.7 billion. Since landing on Mars, the rover, along with the older Curiosity rover, has been exploring the thirty-mile Jezero Crater, searching for signs of ancient life on the Martian surface.

It has been collecting numerous rock samples with the aim of eventually bringing them back to Earth, as reported by Live Science.

For three years, the Perseverance rover had a companion, the Ingenuity helicopter. The helicopter completed its seventy-second and final flight over Mars on January 18th.

Perseverance, about the size of a car, is equipped with seven scientific tools, including the Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX).

During its extensive journey, the rover used RIMFAX to shoot radar signals into the ground every four inches (ten centimeters). This allowed the creation of a map showing signals bouncing back from depths of up to about sixty-six feet (twenty meters) beneath the Martian crater’s surface, according to Live Science.

The radar map has confirmed the presence of sediments, which previous studies suspected but never proved. These sediments indicate the Jezero Crater on Mars was once filled with water from a massive lake.

Similar to what happens in drying lakes on Earth, a river carried these sediments, creating a large delta. Later, these sediments underwent two different phases of erosion, getting deposited and weathered.

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