The rocks identified in an outcrop called “Wildcat Ridge” in Jezero Crater have the highest concentration of organic matter found so far during the Mars 2020 mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Organic molecules are the building blocks of life: rocks that were deposited in the habitable environment of an ancient lake could confirm the existence of microbial life in the Martian past.
NASA’s Perseverance rover obtained rock core samples within an area considered by scientists to be one of the most promising for discovering signs of microbial life on Mars.
The four samples collected from an ancient river delta in the Jezero Crater have a large amount of organic matter: although they will have to be analyzed again when they reach Earth, it is very likely that they will confirm that Mars hosted some form of life at one point in its history. history.
Perseverance is currently investigating the delta’s sedimentary rocks, formed when particles of various sizes settled in the once-watery environment.
Previously, the rover explored the crater floor and found igneous rock, which forms deep underground from magma or during volcanic activity on the surface.
Now, as part of a second science mission, Perseverance has zeroed in on “Wildcat Ridge,” a rock about 1 meter wide that likely formed billions of years ago, when mud and fine sand settled into a salt water lake, which evaporated due to changes in atmospheric and climatic conditions on Mars.