NASA’s Perseverance rover has officially started its hunt for signs of ancient life on Mars – and the space agency is getting ready to share the initial results 


  • NASA’s Perseverance Rover Begins Search for Ancient Life on Mars
  • A news conference will be held on Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST to discuss the results
  • Rover is using its seven-foot mechanical arm to analyze Martian rocks with X-rays and ultraviolet light
  • X-ray equipment still provides ‘unexpectedly strong … results’ during testing
  • Persistence is currently exploring two areas of Jezero Crater

NASA’s Perseverance rover has officially begun the search for ancient life on Mars, and the US space agency will share preliminary findings on Wednesday.

according to a NASA statement, the $2.7 billion rover is using its seven-foot mechanical arm to analyze Martian rocks with X-rays and ultraviolet light.

This allows the rover to ‘zoom in for closeups’ of small sections of rock that may show signs of microbial activity in the past.

According to Abigail Allwood, the X-ray instrument on the arm, known as PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), ‘given unexpectedly strong science results’ while it was still being tested, A period that lasted 90 sols (Martian days). , principal investigator of PIXL at NASA JPL.

NASA’s Perseverance rover has begun the search for ancient life on Mars. A news conference will be held on Wednesday at 1 p.m. EST to discuss the results

PIXL, one of seven instruments aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover, is equipped with light diodes that circle its opening to take pictures of rock targets in the dark.

PIXL, one of seven instruments aboard NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, is equipped with light diodes that circle its opening to take pictures of rock targets in the dark.

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Allwood said, ‘We got our best composition analysis of Martian dust before we looked at the rock.

As with PIXL, all of Perseverance’s arm instruments are designed to look at rocks in the 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater, which many scientists believe was home to a lake billions of years ago.

During the test, PIXL produced 'unexpectedly strong ... results', NASA said in a statement.

During the test, PIXL produced “unexpectedly strong … results,” NASA said in a statement.

Allwood said, ‘If there was life in Jezero Crater, there could be evidence of that life.’

NASA will hold a news conference on Wednesday, starting at 1 p.m. EST, to discuss the initial results, the US agency said in a separate statement.

One of the other instruments on Perseverance’s robotic arm, known as SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environment with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals), uses an ultraviolet laser to identify minerals in the rock.

Its companion, aptly called the Watson (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering) camera, snaps closeup images (including an image of a rock called ‘Fox’ on July 11) that show scientists the size of grains. Allows to get granular details such as. , texture and how round the rocks are.

These details can all help determine when the rock was formed and can provide additional context on the crater.

What is the crater floor made of? How were the conditions on the crater floor?’ JPL’s Luther Beagle, Sherlock’s principal investigator, asked.

‘It tells us a lot about the early days of Mars and possibly the formation of Mars. If we get an idea of ​​​​what the history of Mars is like, then we will understand the potential of finding evidence of life.’

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover took this close-up of a rock called 'Fox' on July 11 using its Watson camera

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover took this close-up of a rock called ‘Fox’ on July 11 using its Watson camera

The shift of persistence for the science mission began on June 1 as it moved away from its touchdown zone, known as the Octavia E. Butler landing site, in the 28-mile-wide crater where it landed on February 18.

As part of its science mission, which is expected to last for ‘hundreds of sols’, or Martian days, it will study two unique geologic regions in the 1.5-mile-wide area of ​​Jezero’s floor: the ‘crater floor fractured rough’ and ‘ Sita.’

Persistence rover Mars will explore two regions in 'Jezero Crater': 'Crater Floor Fractured Rough' and 'Seitah' (pictured)

Persistence rover Mars will explore two regions in ‘Jezero Crater’: ‘Crater Floor Fractured Rough’ and ‘Seitah’ (pictured)

This image of Jezero Crater shows the routes of Perseverance's first science expedition (yellow hash mark) and its second as well as its second (light-yellow hash mark).

This image of Jezero Crater shows the routes of Perseverance’s first science expedition (yellow hash mark) and its second as well as its second (light-yellow hash mark).

In addition to searching for signs of ancient microscopic life, the rover will study the geology of the crater and look for signs of past habitability.

It will also collect rock and sediment samples, which the US space agency said will discuss on Wednesday how to return these samples to Earth for further study.

In March, scientists suggested that a significant portion of the water on Mars, perhaps as much as 99 percent, could be hidden in the planet’s crust.

Once the first science mission is complete, Perseverance will drive back to its landing site, driving for more than 3 miles.

From there, it will head north toward the delta region of Jezero, an area that may contain an abundance of organic minerals that may show fossilized signs of ancient life.

In June, Perseverance celebrated its 100th Mars Day, celebrating its greatest achievements, which included making oxygen ‘out of thin air’ and capturing Ingenuity’s flights.

NASA Mars 2020: Mission will see Perseverance rover and Simplicity helicopter search for life

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet to help scientists understand how life on Earth evolved.

Named Persistence, the main car-sized rover explores an ancient river delta within Jezero Crater, which was once filled with a 1,600-foot-deep lake.

The region is thought to have hosted microbial life some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago and the rover will examine soil samples for evidence of life.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover (artist's impression) is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars to help scientists understand how life evolved on our own planet

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover (artist’s impression) is searching for signs of ancient life on Mars to help scientists understand how life evolved on our own planet

The $2.5 billion (£1.95 billion) Mars 2020 spaceship launched with a rover and helicopter on July 30 – and landed successfully on February 18, 2021.

Persistence descended inside the crater and would collect samples that would eventually be returned to Earth for further…

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