NASA spacecraft finds ‘strong evidence’

An image captured by Sherlock Watson’s camera from the Mars rover “Persevering” shows part of the rover itself on the Martian surface.

© NASA / Jpl-Caltech / dpa

NASA’s “Persevering” rover made a surprising discovery. This discovery aroused great enthusiasm among researchers.

Frankfurt/Pasadena – Shortly after arriving on the planet Mars* In February 2021, NASA’s “Persistence” rover sent data to researchers that answered a big question about Mars: Was the Jezero crater where the rover once landed a lake? The researcher’s answer is: Yes. “This is a major observation that convinced us once and for all that there is a lake and river delta in the Jezero crater,” scientist Nicholas Mangold said in a report from NASA. The US space agency is now publishing the next surprise the rover has found on Mars.

Once again, just months after landing on Mars, the “persistent” rover is answering a question that has been worrying researchers for a long time: did the rocks in the landing zone come from sediments, for example, flowing water was involved in their formation, or whether they were volcanic and natural in nature. created in lava flows?

“I’m getting desperate and thinking we’ll never find the answer,” citing NASA* Persistence Project Scientist Ken Farley of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “But then our PIXL instrument had a pretty good view of the eroded part of the rock and it all became clear: the crystals inside were the final evidence.”

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The findings of the NASA research team, which evaluated data from NASA’s latest rover: It’s very likely that the subsurface layer that Perseverance has been standing on and riding on since its Mars landing was formed in hot magma. The PIXL instrument of the Mars rover “Perseverance” during rock analysis showed that the rock, which the researchers dubbed “Brac”, was composed of an extraordinary abundance of large olivine crystals surrounded by pyrox crystals.

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“A good student of geology will tell you that textures like this indicate that rocks formed, grew into crystals, and settled in cold, cold magma—for example, thick lava flows, lava lakes, or magma chambers,” explains Farley. Then the stone was replaced several times with water.

“This has become a treasure chest that will allow future researchers to date events at Jezero crater,” Farley said. Researchers also suspect that this will help to better understand when water was not uncommon on the surface of the Jezero crater and reveal the early history of Mars. It remains unclear whether the rocks examined cooled at the surface in lava lakes or in underground chambers that then surfaced through erosion.

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The Mars rover “Persevering” has packed a piece of rock into a container that will be returned to Earth on a future mission. Then scientists on Earth can use instruments for their research that are too large to fly to Mars. The NASA rover was supposed to fill a total of 43 small containers with soil samples from Mars, six of which were already filled and sealed. It contains, among other things, the Martian material used by the rover to excavate, as well as samples of the Martian atmosphere.

NASA: “Perseverance” spacecraft has found organic compound

Another instrument from the Mars rover “Persevere” also provides research on Earth with new data: Sherlock discovers organic compounds. This does not automatically mean that life is present in the Jezero crater, NASA confirmed in a press release. There are biological and non-biological mechanisms by which organic compounds arise and NASA’s Curiosity spacecraft also found organic material at its landing site at Gale Crater*.

NASA’s ‘Persevere’ explorer in the center of the South Sittah region in the Jezero crater on Mars. There, explorers analyzed the rock, which showed researchers on Earth how the rock was formed. The image was taken by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

©NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona

“What Sherlock adds to the story is the ability to map the spatial distribution of organic matter within the rock and relate it to the minerals found there,” explains Sherlock researcher Luther Beagle of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In this way, research can better understand the environment in which organic compounds form.

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The fact that organic compounds were found in the rocks of the Jezero and Gale craters means that potential biological markers – that is, signs of past or present life – have also been preserved. “This is a question that probably won’t be solved until samples are brought to Earth, but getting organic compounds is very exciting,” Beagle said. “When these Martian samples reach Earth, they will be the source of many years of scientific research.” (tab) * view from IPPEN.MEDIA.

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