Scientists with NASA's Mars 2020 rover have discovered what may be one of the best places to look for signs of ancient life in Jezero Crater, where the rover will land on February 18, 2021. Carbonate rocks are predominantly formed by biological activity here on Earth, and the paper suggests Jezero's might have been built by ancient microbes living along the alien shoreline during a time when both sunlight and water were plentiful on Mars.
The Mars 2020 project is NASA's next generation mission which is focussed on astrobiology (the study of life along the universe). Scientists will study some core rock samples to check for microbial life possibly deposited in metal tubes on Mars.
NASA's mission to Mars launches next year, and it could be our best opportunity yet to discover signs of extraterrestrial life. According to NASA, SAM confirmed that the Martian atmosphere is "95 percent by volume of carbon dioxide, 2.6 percent molecular nitrogen, 1.9 percent argon, 0.16 percent molecular oxygen, and 0.06 percent carbon monoxide". In that sense, they act as time capsules that scientists can study to learn when - and how - the Red Planet began drying out. The Jezero Crater is about 45 kilometers wide.
Images from the Mars orbiter's camera were used to create mineral maps and its Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars Instrument, or CRISM, was key to finding the carbonates.
Team members belonging to NASA's Mars 2020 mission and the European Space Agency-Roscosmos ExoMars mission are now exploring how they can explore research techniques in the Australian Outback, before they take off to Mars in 2020. They hope to understand Better how to look for signs of ancient life on Mars. "We're going to encounter carbonate deposits in many locations throughout the mission, but the bathtub ring will be one of the most exciting places to visit".
The presence of carbonates isn't a guarantee that they originated from the lake because they could have existed there before the lake formed.
Some residual deposits of minerals, or carbonates within the internal rim of Jezero have been found.
Through their mission, the team is hoping that they can explore the floor of the crater as well as the delta, when the rover takes off. Horgan adds that the team is hoping that it would come to the rim of the crater as well as its carbonates.
"The possibility that the & # 39; marginal carbonates & # 39; were formed around the lake was one of the most exciting features that took us to our Jezero landing site".
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NASA announced late a year ago that its Mars 2020 rover would be headed to Jezero, which appears to have been home to an ancient lake. (JPL leads the Mars 2020 mission.) "We're eager to get to the surface and discover how these carbonates formed".
Jezero's former lake shoreline isn't the only place scientists are excited to visit.
A false-color image of Jezero crater shows the edge of an ancient river delta, where researchers have spied hydrated silica.
Deltas are good areas to search for signs of life, because these regions concentrate deposits from all over a river system.
Oxygen on Mars behaves in ways scientists can't seem to explain yet, according to NASA.
Melissa Trainer, planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said: "We're struggling to explain this".
Mars 2020 is part of a broader program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for the human exploration of the Red Planet. NASA plans to establish sustained human presence on the Moon by 2028 with the Artemis mission.
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, leads the MRO CRISM research.