The sample collection is just the first part of a long-term mission to answer key questions about the Red Planet.
Three years after liftoff to Mars and two and a half years after a successful landing on that planet, NASA’s Mars 2020 mission is one step closer to reaching the marginal carbonate unit. (You may be interested in: They determined for the first time whether the asteroid would collide with Earth)
This is located on one end of Jezero Crater, which is the location chosen by the mission to land and explore the Perseverance rover. There is a type of mineral that could be crucial to scientific research on this planet: carbonate.
On Earth, “carbonates typically form in shallow freshwater banks or alkaline lakes,” NASA explains. In addition, they serve as a form of preservation of animal or plant fossils, containing important information about the period in which they existed.
One of the hypotheses about the presence of carbonates on Mars is that millions of years ago there was a lake in the island’s crater, which led to the formation of the belt. “An alternative hypothesis is that the carbonates formed through mineral carbonation, where silicate minerals (such as olivine) react with carbon dioxide and become carbonates,” the space agency explained. (We recommend: They said that the “mysterious” hole was caused by a meteorite, but there is another explanation)
With these hypotheses, the Mars 2020 research team is confident that these rocks contain information about Mars’ past atmosphere and climate history. They can also find fossils or information about past life, if it existed, on the planet within the carbonates.
NASA said: “Although we still do not know exactly how the marginal rocks formed, or the carbonates within them, the team is keen to drill into these rocks and discover their secrets.”
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