Here on Mars, I’m examining a new rock and getting ready for the next sample. Back on Earth, engineers are testing systems that could bring back this literal piece of history.https://t.co/J4mhD8XZLa #SamplingMars pic.twitter.com/6c7XWnrjw2
– NASA Persevere on Mars (@NASAPersevere) December 14, 2021
Could they have come into contact with water?
The team also concluded that the rocks in the crater the spacecraft is orbiting have interacted with water multiple times over a long period of time, and that some of them contain organic molecules.
Even before the Perseverance landing on Mars, the mission’s science team questioned the origin of the rocks in the area: “I began to despair, as I thought we’d never find the answer” to that question, said Ken Farley, the Keck Foundation Professor of Geochemistry and Perseverance Project Scientist, presenting discovery.
An exercise on Mars
The situation changed when Perseverance began using a drill at the end of her robotic arm to scrape the surfaces of the rock: “The crystals inside the rock provided conclusive evidence,” Farley added.
Perseverance is armed with a suite of advanced tools that can visualize and analyze these revealing rocks, revealing their composition and mineral content.
A sample that will reach Earth in 2031
The Persevering robotic rover, which arrived at Mars last February after nearly seven months of traveling from Florida, collected the first sample on Mars soil last September to analyze whether there is life on the Red Planet.
This sample was a slightly wider, pencil-thick piece of rock taken from Jezero crater, which along with about seven others will be part of the Mars Sample Return Program, which plans to bring it back to Earth by 2031.
NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning a series of future missions to return probe samples to Earth for further study.
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