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Reviews Traces of life on Mars: the Rover Perseverance makes promising discoveries

12:50  16 september  2022
12:50  16 september  2022 Source:   liberation.fr

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© JPL-Caltech "Selfie" of the Rover Perseverance of NASA on Mars, taken in September 2021.

if it is not yet Proof that life has one day existed on March , The Rover Perseverance has taken a major step with the collection of samples containing potential biosignatures whose nature will have to be confirmed once on earth. "I think we can say that it will be, and that these are already, the most precious rock samples ever collected" , ignited David Shuster, from the University of California in Berkeley, at a press conference organized by NASA on Thursday.

"I personally find these results very moving, because it seems that we are in the right place, with the right instruments, at a pivotal moment" , abounded Sunanda Sharma, scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA.

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These samples represent the best chance until now to be able to detect with certainty a possible old microbial life with certainty. A potential biosignature may have been produced by the presence of life, but also by another mechanism that does not imply life. To consider this biosignature as final, these samples must therefore be analyzed by powerful laboratory instruments, on earth. NASA plans to report them thanks to another mission by 2033.

Two carrots large as a finger, and kept in sealed tubes on board the rover, were taken by piercing in a rock called "Wildcat Ridge". About a meter, it is located in a delta having formed about 3.5 billion years ago, meeting a river and an old lake. This rock is particularly interesting because it is a sedimentary rock, which seems to have been formed when the water of the lake has evaporated.

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Mission Recovery

analyzed separately by an instrument at the end of the robotic arm of Perseverance, the rock revealed the most abundant presence of organic compounds detected in a year and a half of mission. These compounds - facts in particular of carbon, and can also contain hydrogen - "are the basic elements of life" , said Ken Farley, in charge of the scientific part of the mission.

At the bottom of a crater, the robot also found igneous rocks, that is to say crystallized rocks after melting. This discovery indicates "an active volcanism" , and that before welcoming water, the crater has possibly filled "with a lava lake", according to Ken Farley

recovering these samples will not be a thin affair. In 2028, a mission will take off towards March. She will carry an a landing, with a mini-fusée on her back. The Perseverance rover will run to him, and the samples will be placed in the mini-fusée by a robotic arm. Then it will take off, and the precious cargo will be transferred to a vessel previously placed in orbit around Mars. Once the samples have been recovered, this orbiter will resume the ground of the earth, for an landing in the Utah desert, in 2033.

in the event of Perseverance failure, the landing will send two small helicopters to recover the samples, going either to the rover itself, or to a rescue reserve.

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