Perseverance collects pieces of Mars' history
GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover successfully collected its first pair of rock samples, and scientists already are gaining new insights into the region. After collecting its first sample, named "Montdenier" on 6 September 2021, the team collected a second, "Montagnac," from the same rock on 8 September 2021, according to a release by NASA.
- Analysis of the rocks from which the Montdenier and Montagnac samples were taken and from the rover's previous sampling attempt may help the science team piece together the timeline of the area's past, which was marked by volcanic activity and periods of persistent water.
- It looks like our first rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment. It's a big deal that the water was there a long time.
- The rock that provided the mission's first core samples is basaltic in composition and may be the product of lava flows.
- The presence of crystalline minerals in volcanic rocks is especially helpful in radiometric dating. The volcanic origin of the rock could help scientists accurately date when it formed.
- Each sample can serve as part of a larger chronological puzzle; put them in the right order, and scientists have a timeline of the most important events in the crater's history.
- Some of those events include the formation of Jezero Crater, the emergence and disappearance of Jezero's lake, and changes to the planet's climate in the ancient past.
- The salt minerals in these first two rock cores may also have trapped tiny bubbles of ancient Martian water.
- If present, they could serve as microscopic time capsules, offering clues about the ancient climate and habitability of Mars. Salt minerals are also well-known on Earth for their ability to preserve signs of ancient life.