JAKARTA – After a long journey, NASA’s Perseverance rover has finally arrived safely at the remains of the ancient Martian river delta at the bottom of the 28-mile (45-kilometer) wide Jezero Crater.
The Perseverance team on Earth say the location of the delta will be a true geological search ground for robots, which are hunting for signs of fossil life on the Red Planet.
NASA explains, river deltas are large fan-shaped collections of rock and sediment that formed at the confluence of rivers and crater lakes billions of years ago.
“The delta at Jezero Crater promises a true geological feast and one of the best locations on Mars to look for signs of past microscopic life. The answer is out there, and Team Perseverance is ready to find it,” said NASA Science associate administrator. Mission Directorate in Washington. , Thomas Zurbuchen.
Launch space, Thursday, April 21, now that Perseverance is in the region, he will head to the plateau above the delta, where he will conduct a detailed scientific investigation. NASA says astrobiology is a key goal of the Perseverance mission, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life.
“We’ve been observing the delta for more than a year, and will be looking for signs of ancient life in the rocks at the delta bottom, rocks we think are mud at the bottom of Lake Jezero,” says the Perseverance project. scientist Ken Farley.
For information, Perseverance has landed in February 2021 inside the Jezero Crater, which scientists say is a lake and river delta mission that was active billions of years ago as a host on the planet.
Such conditions should harbor microbes, meaning the delta region is a rich area to look for signs of Martian life, if any.
The rover worked somewhat south and west of its landing site during its first (Earth) year on Mars, but has recently made it back through the landing area to reach the delta.
Arriving in the delta, Perseverance will spend the next week or so driving west to figure out the best way to explore compound this delta, and the team is considering two route options.
The preferred route, at least for now, is through the territory dubbed Hawksbill Turtle Gap, as it appears to be achievable in less time. But a backup option, Cape Nukshak is available if data in the coming days suggests it is a safer route.
Meanwhile, Perseverance will spend about six months taking eight samples during this maneuvering campaign, called Delta Front.
The plan then asks the rover to go into the delta again, perhaps taking a backup option to sample untraveled territory, to spend another six months in the Delta Top Campaign.
Finally, the robot will also try to collect sand and rock shards from upstream, in areas that the explorer would not visit during his lifetime on Mars.