BREAKING: NASA's Rover Finds Strong evidence of Organic LIFE on Mars surface


Today, scientists working with NASA's Perseverance Mars rover revealed that the rover has taken multiple tantalization organic rock samples from a former river delta on Mars. Now that these samples have been saved, a mission is planned to retrieve them and bring them back to Earth for the first-ever sample return from Mars.

At a news briefing on September 15th, Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley stated, "The rocks that we have been analysing on the delta have the highest concentration of organic materials that we have yet identified on the mission."

The fact that organic stuff can be found in rocks that were deposited in a habitable environment, such as a lake, is particularly intriguing because organic molecules constitute the basis for life.

The rover's total sample count now stands at 12 thanks to the four samples gathered in the delta, which geologists believe to represent an old lakebed. The NASA website contains more details on each sample. This fan-shaped delta, which can be found in Jezero Crater, the site of the rover's landing, originated some 3.5 billion years ago at what appears to be the meeting point of a Martian River and a lake.

Perseverance is currently investigating the sedimentary rocks of the delta, which were formed as particles of different sizes settled in the formerly aquatic environment. During its initial research mission, the rover looked at the crater's floor and found igneous rock, which forms when magma or volcanic activity deep beneath is heated.

The rover is currently examining the delta, where it has found organic chemicals, as part of its second research campaign. While Perseverance and the Curiosity rover have previously found organics on Mars, this most recent discovery was made in an area where, in the distant past, dirt and salts gathered into a lake under conditions favourable to life.

Farley said that they found a mudstone and a sandstone with grains and rock fragments that were produced far from Jezero Crater. A 3 foot (1 metre) wide rock known as "Wildcat Ridge" was created by the accumulation of mud and fine sand in a saltwater lake that was evaporating billions of years ago.

On July 20, the rover scratched a portion of Wildcat Ridge's surface in order to use the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals, or SHERLOC, instrument to study the region.

The SHERLOC analysis identified a group of organic chemicals in the samples that are related to those found in sulphate minerals. Sedimentary rock layers containing sulphate minerals can disclose a lot about the moist environments in which they formed.

According to Sunanda Sharma, a SHERLOC scientist, "this correlation shows that both sulphates and organics were deposited, stored, and concentrated in this area during the lake's evaporation." Because it appears like we are at the right place at the right time with the right resources, I personally find these findings to be quite moving.

Organic molecules, according to NASA, are a broad class of chemical compounds that are mostly made of carbon and typically contain hydrogen and oxygen atoms. There may also be other elements like nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulphur.

While some of these molecules are created by inanimate chemical reactions, others serve as the building blocks of life. These particular molecules are thought to be a potential biosignature—a material or structure that could indicate the presence of past life but could just as well have formed in the absence of life.

According to a press release from NASA's associate administrator for science in Washington, Thomas Zurbuchen, "We chose the Jezero Crater for Perseverance to explore because we thought it had the best chance of providing scientifically excellent samples - and now we know we sent the rover to the right location."

"These first two science campaigns have produced an astonishing range of samples that the Mars Sample Return campaign will send back to Earth."

Together, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are planning how to bring the first samples of Martian material back to Earth for further study. As it stands now, a Sample Return Lander would fly close to or into Jezero Crater and would be equipped with a miniature rocket that would be used to load the samples that Perseverance has collected.

Two helicopters modelled after Ingenuity would serve as a backup for taking samples from the surface of Mars. By the early to mid 2030s, another spacecraft will capture the sample cache once it has been launched from Mars and bring it back to Earth.

The important question of whether life has ever existed on Mars may be answered by these initial samples that have been collected and returned.

Reference: NASA

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