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Even although we’re studying extra about Mars than ever earlier than due to rovers, orbiters, and landers visiting the planet, there’s nonetheless an entire lot we’ve got to study how Mars fashioned, its historical past, and what it’s made up of now. The Perseverance rover has been exploring Mars’ Jezero crater because it landed there in 2021, and now scientists have launched a batch of new analysis which might assist us get a greater understanding of the planet’s historical past and geology.

One massive discovering is that rocks that Perseverance has discovered on the ground of the Jezero crater are igneous rocks, fashioned from cooling lava. That’s thrilling as a result of it helps scientists to place dates on occasions in Martian historical past, similar to when the rocks interacted with water. “From a sampling perspective, this is huge,” stated one of many researchers, David Shuster of the University of California, Berkeley, in a assertion. “The fact that we have evidence of aqueous alteration of igneous rocks — those are the ingredients that people are very excited about, with regard to understanding environmental conditions that could potentially have supported life at some point after these rocks were formed.”

The Perseverance Mars rover took this selfie on Sept. 10, 2021 — sol 198 of the mission – in Jezero Crater after coring into a rock called ‘Rochette.’
The Perseverance Mars rover took this selfie on Sept. 10, 2021 — sol 198 of the mission – in Jezero Crater after coring right into a rock referred to as ‘Rochette.’ Rock core samples from the ground of the crater will probably be introduced again to Earth and analyzed to characterize the planet’s geology and previous local weather. NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/Malin Space Science Systems

“One great value of the igneous rocks we collected is that they will tell us about when the lake was present in Jezero. We know it was there more recently than the igneous crater floor rocks formed,” defined Ken Farley of Caltech, Perseverance’s challenge scientist and the lead creator of one of many current papers in one other assertion. “This will address some major questions: When was Mars’ climate conducive to lakes and rivers on the planet’s surface, and when did it change to the very cold and dry conditions we see today?”

Igneous rocks are nice for understanding the historical past of water on the planet, however they aren’t so good for an additional of Perseverance’s jobs: searching for indicators of historic life. If there ever was life on Mars, our greatest hope of discovering proof of it might be to look at sedimentary rocks, which frequently kind in watery situations when layers of sediment are carried by lakes or rivers.

To discover these sedimentary rocks, Perseverance is at the moment exploring an space of Jezero the place there was as soon as a river delta. This delta will probably be wealthy in sedimentary rocks which Perseverance is accumulating samples from to allow them to be introduced again to Earth for research in a future Mars Sample Return mission.

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