The Perseverance rover has taken an important step in its search for traces of ancient life on Mars with the collection of samples.the most preciousso far, containing potential biological signatures that will need to be confirmed once on Earth, NASA announced on Thursday, Sept. 15. This is not yet proof that life once existed on the Red Planet, but the best chance so far that one day it will be able to detect with certainty a possible ancient microbial life.
A potential bio-signature may have been produced by the presence of life, but also by the absence of life. To consider this bio-signature as definitive, these samples will have to be analyzed by powerful laboratory instruments on Earth. NASA plans to bring them back, thanks to another mission, by 2033 “.I think it’s safe to say that these will be, and already are, the most valuable rock samples ever collected.“David Shuster, who works on these samples, said during a press conference.
“Basic elements of life”
Two carrots were taken by drilling a rock called “wild cat crest“, About one meter high and located in a delta that was formed about 3.5 billion years ago, at the meeting of a river and an ancient lake. This rock is particularly interesting because it is a sedimentary rock, which appears to have formed when the water in the lake evaporated. “wild cat crest” Like this “a high storage potential of a biological signaturesaid David Shuster of the University of California at Berkeley.
Analyzed separately by an instrument at the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm, the rock revealed the presence of organic compounds, the most abundant detected since the mission began a year and a half ago. These compounds – made up in particular of carbon, and which may also contain hydrogen – “they are the basic elements of life“Said Ken Farley, in charge of the scientific part of the mission.
They were detected in smaller quantities by the rover during previous analyzes in the Jézéro crater, which contained the lake, but “as we advance through the delta, the “The clues are getting stronger,” said Sunanda Sharma, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “Personally I find these results very moving, because it seems that we are in the right place, with the right tools, at a crucial moment.“, she said. “We don’t know the significance of these finds yet, but these rocks are exactly what we came for.Ken Farley concluded.
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