Science

Rock samples collected by Perseverance reveal Mars had a ‘habitable, sustainable environment’

NASA announced Friday that the first rocks collected by the Perseverance rover on Mars reveal that the Jezero crater was once “a potentially habitable sustainable environment.”

The news follows the rover’s successful mission to collect two rock monsters called “Montdenier” and “Montagnac” earlier this week.

The core samples have a basaltic composition, which scientists believe formed from ancient lava flows and could represent a timeline of the ancient lake — from when it was formed to when it disappeared.

NASA already knows that the crater was once filled with water, but for how long remains a mystery.

But the degree of change scientists see in the rock that provided the core samples — as well as in the rock the team focused on in their first sampling attempt — suggests groundwater was present for a long time.

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NASA announced Friday that the first rocks collected by the Perseverance rover on Mars reveal that the Jezero crater was once

NASA announced Friday that the first rocks collected by the Perseverance rover on Mars reveal that the Jezero crater was once “a potentially habitable sustainable environment.”

Perseverance collected the rock samples on Sept. 6 and 8, and the team has since analyzed them from 239 million miles away.

NASA Headquarters Mitch Schulte, the mission’s program scientist, said in a pronunciation: ‘These samples have a high value for future laboratory analyzes on Earth.

“One day we may be able to determine the sequence and timing of the environmental conditions that represent the minerals of this rock. This will help answer the big scientific question about the history and stability of liquid water on Mars.’

The ground team determined that there are salts in the rock samples that may have formed when groundwater flowed through them and altered the original minerals in the rock, or more likely when liquid water evaporated, leaving the salts behind.

The news follows the rover's successful mission to collect two rock monsters called

The news follows the rover’s successful mission to collect two rock monsters called “Montdenier” and “Montagnac” earlier this week.

The ground team determined that there are salts in the rock samples that may have formed when groundwater flowed through them and altered the original minerals in the rock, or more likely when liquid water evaporated, leaving the salts behind.

The ground team determined that there are salts in the rock samples that may have formed when groundwater flowed through them and altered the original minerals in the rock, or more likely when liquid water evaporated, leaving the salts behind.

“The salt minerals in these first two rock cores may also have trapped small bubbles of ancient Martian water,” NASA said in a statement.

“If they are present, they could serve as microscopic time capsules and provide clues about the ancient climate and habitability of Mars. Salt minerals are also known on Earth for their ability to retain signs of ancient life.”

Scientists hypothesize that the groundwater came from the water that once flowed into Jezero, or that it could have traveled through the rocks long after the lake dried up.

While it’s unclear whether water that changed the rocks was present for tens of thousands or millions of years, NASA thinks it’s certain that water was there long enough to make the area more welcome for microscopic life in the past.

Perseverance’s next likely monster site is just 200 meters away in ‘South Séítah’, a series of ridges covered in sand dunes, boulders and rock shards that Farley likens to ‘broken plates’.

The rover’s recent core sample represents what is likely one of the youngest rock strata found at the bottom of Jezero Crater.

While it's unclear whether water that changed the rocks was there for tens of thousands or millions of years, NASA thinks it's certain that water was there long enough to make the area more welcome for microscopic life in the past.

While it’s unclear whether water that changed the rocks was there for tens of thousands or millions of years, NASA thinks it’s certain that water was there long enough to make the area more welcome for microscopic life in the past.

Perseverance's next likely monster site is just 200 yards away in 'South Séítah', a series of ridges covered in sand dunes, boulders and rock shards that Farley likens to 'broken plates'

Perseverance’s next likely monster site is just 200 yards away in ‘South Séítah’, a series of ridges covered in sand dunes, boulders and rock shards that Farley likens to ‘broken plates’

South Séítah, on the other hand, is likely older and will give the scientific team a better timeline to understand the events that shaped the crater floor, including the lake.

Perseverance carries 43 titanium sample tubes, which it will fill during its stay on Mars.

The samples will be left on the Red Planet for NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to collect in the future.

Currently, NASA and ESA are planning to launch two more spacecraft that would leave Earth in 2026 and reach Mars in 2028.

The first will deploy a small rover, which will make its way to Perseverance, pick up the filled sample tubes and transfer them to a “Mars-ascent vehicle” – a small rocket.

This rocket will fire — becoming the first object to be launched from the surface of Mars — and place the container in orbit around Mars, meaning it will essentially float in space.

At this point, the third and final spacecraft involved in the tricky operation will maneuver itself next to the monster container, pick it up and fly back to Earth.

If the return to Earth’s atmosphere is successful, it will plunge to the ground at a Utah military training ground in 2031, meaning Mars’ samples won’t be studied for another 10 years.

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