Organic Molecules in Wildcat Ridge
According to RT, the rock, called Wildcat Ridge, is located in the former Delta River region in the Jezero Crater, a place that is a prime location for searching for traces of ancient microbial life.
The Perseverance spacecraft has succeeded in collecting two clay rock samples in the area, where the Wildcat Ridge is particularly exciting to scientists because the organic molecules (called aromatics) present in it represent a potential biosignature, in what NASA describes as a material or structure that could be evidence of life. past but may also have been produced without life.
The Perspective Rover team stressed that finding the organic matter does not mean that evidence of ancient life has been found.
Organic particles have been spotted on Mars before, by the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater and by Perseverance, which found carbon-containing particles earlier in the mission.
The rover’s Sherloc instrument examined the rock. “In its analysis of Wildcat Ridge, the Sherloc instrument recorded the most abundant organic discovery of the mission to date,” NASA said.
“In the distant past, the sand, muck and salts that now make up the Wildcat Ridge specimen were deposited in conditions where life would have thrived,” Ken Farley, Project Scientist for Perseverance, said during a press conference on Thursday, September 15th. These sedimentary rocks, known to preserve fossils of ancient life here on Earth, are important.”
He continued, “The rocks that we’ve been investigating in the delta contain the highest concentration of organic matter that we’ve found so far in the mission. And of course, organic molecules are the building blocks of life, so it’s very interesting that we have rocks that were deposited in a habitable environment in a lake that holds materials. membership”.
It is noteworthy that “Perseverence” is not equipped to find definitive evidence of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.
“The truth is that the burden of proof to establish life on another planet is very high,” Farley said during the press conference. For this, we need to examine Martian rocks up close and personal in Earth laboratories.
From the four samples collected in the delta region, which scientists believe is a former lake bed, the rover has so far collected a total of 12 samples on board, including samples of igneous rocks, which indicate the impact of long-standing volcanic action in the crater.
NASA seems so pleased with the variety of samples its spacecraft has collected that it is looking to unload some filled tubes on the surface soon in preparation for a future Mars Sample Return (MSR) campaign, an ambitious plan to send a lander to Mars, capture Perseverance samples, and launch them to the surface. And return it to Earth for closer study. The task is under development. If all goes as planned, these rocks could be here by 2033.
As exciting as the Delta has been, the Perseverance team is looking forward to future adventures beyond. The spacecraft can wander to the crater rim, as the team looks at several potential paths to climb. It is also expected that the accompanying helicopter will be in the air again.