Science

NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on MARS, to trace evidence of past microbial life

NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover has landed on Mars today to further pave the way for human exploration beyond the Moon. As the agency’s newest rover mission searches for fossilized microscopic life on the Red Planet, here is all you need to know about the mission.

In search of extraterrestrial life

The rover, along with characterizing the red planet’s geology and climate, focuses on astrobiology which is the study of origins, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. The scientific field of astrobiology swirls around the question of whether extraterrestrial life exists, and if it does, how humans can detect it.

NASA’s perseverance rover traverses on the same lines and is tasked with searching for telltale signs that microbial life may have lived on Mars billions of years ago.

Jezero Crater of MARS

Jezero Crater, a dry lakebed on Mars, is the the landing site for Perseverance. Scientists involved in the mission believe that Jezero could provide evidences and signs of past microbial existence.

Jezero – The ancient lake site

Scientists say that 3.5 billion years ago, Jezero was the site of a large lake, complete with its own river delta. They believe that while the water may be long gone, somewhere within the 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer-wide) crater, or perhaps along its 2,000-foot-tall (610-meter-tall) rim, ‘biosignatures’ which are evidences that life once existed there could be waiting.

Collection and study of Rocks & Sediments

The rover will trace a path along the ancient shoreline of the landing site to see if it’s like similar places on Earth. It will look for rocks that could that tell a story of past microbial life. “We expect the best places to look for biosignatures would be in Jezero’s lakebed or in shoreline sediments that could be encrusted with carbonate minerals, which are especially good at preserving certain kinds of fossilized life on Earth,” said Ken Williford, deputy project scientist for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission at JPL.

The rover will collect rock core samples in metal tubes which would be returned to Earth through future missions for deeper study.

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