Perseverance rover starts hunting for signs of past life on Mars

Perseverance rover starts hunting for signs of past life on Mars

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • NASA’s Perseverance rover has begun searching for signs of ancient life on Mars.
  • The rover has already captured an image of a Martian rock and determined its composition.
  • The rover landed on Mars in February, in the area which used to be a crater lake billions of years ago.

NASA’s Perseverance rover has begun hunting for evidence of past life on Mars. The spacecraft landed on the planet in February. 

According to a statement released by NASA on Monday, Perseverance had begun its exploration of rocks and sediment on Mars and has captured its first science readings.

  

Perseverance will zoom for “closeups” of surfaces and will examine rocks using ultraviolet light and X-rays. 

The rover is also equipped with PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), an X-ray instrument that can take pictures of rock targets in the dark. The equipment uses artificial intelligence to determine the rover’s distance from the target being scanned.

NASA says the PIXL on Perseverance had already determined the composition of Martian dust before it even examined a rock.

Perseverance remains at its landing site in the area around Jezero Crater, which used to be a crater lake billions of years ago. 

NASA scientists used the SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) spectrometer, WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering) camera, and PIXL to combine mineral maps. 

Using its WATSON camera, Perseverance took a close-up image of a rock target nicknamed “Foux” on July 11, 2021, the 139th of the rover’s mission. The image has provided data on the colors, sizes of grains, and the presence of “cement” between the grains of Martian rocks. 

The rock and regolith will be collected and cached and will be returned to MARS during NASA’S joint mission with the ESA (European Space Agency), Fox News reported. 

Any geological discoveries before the mission will be crucial to understanding the crater’s history and help identify any possible indication of Martian life.  

Kenneth Williford, the deputy project scientist for Perseverance, said, “Mars 2020, in my view, is the best opportunity we will have in our lifetime to address that question.”

 

Source: Fox News

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