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Perseverance underlines the importance of searching for life on Mars

Perseverance underlines the importance of searching for life on Mars


The Persevering rover, which arrived at Mars in February, delivered on Thursday (7) its first scientific results confirming interest in searching for signs of life at the landing site, a crater believed to be fed by a lake. River.

The Supercam is integrated into the mast of NASA’s robot, which made it possible to observe the areas around Jezero crater on the land of the Red Planet and transmit a series of images via satellite.

These first high-resolution images confirmed what was observed from orbit, that is, signs of a closed lake in the crater about 35 kilometers in diameter, fed by a river estuary, about 3.6 billion years ago.

The study, published in Science, the first since the Perseverance landing, provides numerous details about the crater’s history. The French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), during the presentation of the results of the study to the press, which was conducted by one of the center’s researchers, explained that Supercam allowed the identification of sediment layers that are “a great candidate for finding signs of past life.” Nicholas Mangold.

The astronomer explained that these layers, coming from a 40-meter-high hill called Kodiak, are “clay or sandy deposits, in which organic matter is easy to preserve.”

– ‘Organic matter’ –

Sylvester Morris, of the Research Institute of Astrophysics and Planetary Science at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse, explained that the organic matter produced by living organisms consists of a mixture of complex molecules of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and a little oxygen.

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“We found this type of material deep in Earth’s soil and in sediment deposits in the river delta, confirming astrobiology’s interest in Jezero crater. [ciência que estuda a vida no universo]”he added.

The perseverance also revealed the unexpected presence of large stones and boulders, indicating the presence of strong river currents in the past. According to the study, the end of the crater period will be associated with greater climate change.

“What kind of climate generated this shift? Desertification or glaciation? That’s what we’re investigating,” Mangold explained.

All these observations, made by the probe at a distance of more than two kilometers from the studied geological formations, will now allow the equipment to focus on collecting samples, which will have to be brought to Earth by 2030 for examination.

Two other robots, Curiosity and Insight, are currently exploring other points on Mars.

In September 2022, the Russian-European ExoMars mission is expected to send a robot to Mars designed to drill into the land of the Red Planet more than a meter deep, an unheard of feat.