This is one more step in the search for traces of life on the planet Mars! On September 15, NASA confirmed that the Perseverance rover had detected possible “biosignatures” in a collection of samples. If its nature on Earth needs to be confirmed, it is nonetheless a promising discovery in detecting a trace of ancient life.
A promising discovery
Since landing on the planet Mars in February 2021, Perseverance can be found in Jezero Crateran impact crater of 49 miles in diameter This crater houses a clay delta, indicating a region that was once rich in liquid water. Scientists did not choose this place by chance, they expected to find here the most complex and scientifically promising samples.
In recent months, The rover took four cores from different types of sedimentary rocks.. These rocks were on the edge of the delta.
The first pair of cores comes from a rocky outcrop known as Skinner Ridge. He revealed light sandstone with dark grains, similar to a well-known rock type on Earth. These grains were probably transported by the ancient river that ran through the area. Therefore, they will be able to give characteristic indications of other neighboring regions..
The second pair of cores, taken at Wildcat Ridge (just 20 meters from Skinner Ridge), revealed finer grains. Generally, fine grains tend to settle in environments where there is little current, retaining decomposing organisms. And the first analysis that results from it does indeed show that these grains were rich in organic matter.
No immediate confirmation
This first analysis was performed by the rover itself. actually has a robotic arm that allows you to analyze the mineralogy of the rockafter hollowing out a circle to expose the inner texture of the carrot.
However, caution is still required because this possible “biosignature” does not necessarily mean a sign of life. Organic molecules consisting of carbon, oxygen, or nitrogen can be produced by chemical processes without the presence of life.
These samples represent the best hope so far to definitively prove ancient life on Mars.
To have a definitive confirmation that these are real “biosignatures”, we will have to wait for a deeper analysis on Earth. However, the return trip is not planned immediately… Only in 2028 will a new space mission take off to Mars, with the aim of Repatriate samples of Perseverance by 2033!
Until then, the rover will continue to examine the Martian soil. It has already moved to a nearby area, known as Enchanted Lake. It will take other rock samples, that will remain stored in the rover, until its repatriation to Earth.