Rock samples on Mars collected by the Perseverance rover “reveal that a potentially habitable supported environment” existed on the planet, meaning alien life could have it as well, according to NASA scientists.
The salts spotted in these rocks are believed to have formed when groundwater bloomed through the original minerals of the rocks or when liquid water evaporated.
Nasa hopes the salt minerals trapped tiny bubbles of ancient Martian water, which could serve as microscopic time capsules – because salt minerals are known to preserve signs of ancient life on Earth.
The space agency selected Jezero Crater for this mission specifically because it was showing signs of being an ancient river delta, and the goal was to drill deep into the sediment of where this river once flowed for. check out the remains of extraterrestrial life.
It is certain that a lake once filled the crater, but for how long is unknown. NASA has previously said its scientists could not rule out the possibility that Lake Jezero was a “lightning-in-the-pan” filled with floodwater that has dried up in the space of 50 years.
But signs from the rock samples suggest that the groundwater was present for much longer than that.
Although scientists cannot be certain that the water that weathered these rocks was present for tens of thousands of years or millions of years, they are increasingly certain that it was there long enough. to accommodate microscopic life.
“These samples are of great value for future laboratory analysis on Earth,” said Mitch Schulte of NASA.
“One day we may be able to determine the sequence and timing of the environmental conditions represented by the minerals in this rock. This will help answer the overarching scientific question of the history and stability of liquid water on Mars. . “
Carefully selected samples of Martian rock and soil would not be fully analyzed immediately, as the equipment needed to do so is too complicated to send to Mars.
Instead, the rover will cache the samples in titanium tubes and these will be collected by another rover in about a decade.
NASA and the European Space Agency are planning a sample return campaign to Mars, where these samples can be examined with instruments far too large and complex to be sent to Mars.
“Detailed maps will be provided for any future mission that could go to Mars and retrieve these samples for study by scientists,” NASA said at the time.