Wednesday , December 8 2021

How many chances does NASA have to discover life on Mars? BBC News



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Finding signs that it was once on Mars could be easier soon.

That's what the scientists control the unmanned NASA mission that must reach the Red Planet in 2021 with the specific goal of trying to find evidence of past lives.

The six-wheeled vehicle traveling around Mars will search for traces of rocks that could be about 3.9 billion years old.

Confirming that there was life on earth at such a distant time is very difficult though Researchers believe that the evidence on Mars can be preserved better.

This is due to the dynamic processes on our planet that constantly shake and recycle the stones, which can erase the traces of life, but that in the red planet ended at an early stage in its history.

"We do not think, for example, that Mars had tectonic plates that the earth has for most of its history," said Ken Williford of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California (JPL). acronyms in English).

"Most of the cliffs of the earth have been destroyed by subduction under the sea crust, but also The stone that remained on the surface has been heated and crushed in ways that should not have happened to Mars. So paradoxically, it is likely that the oldest stones on Mars are better preserved than young stones on earth, "he told BBC News.

Traces of water and life

The exploration vehicle will carry out its work near the Jezero Crater, which satellite observations suggest once a deep lake.

Scientists hope that if the microbes live in or around the water source there are traces of their presence preserved in sediments that can now easily be perforated.

A key goal is carbon deposits that appear to be in line with what would have been the old lake shore.

"Carbonates are a type of mineral that falls out of the water and that's really good with that's it when they do, they catch everything in the water. Then all life can get stuck inside the ore, "explained Briony Horgan of Purdue University, Indiana.

The ideal scenario would be for the vehicle to encounter formations that look like stromatolites. These are dome-shaped carbonate structures constructed on the ground by microbial carpets.

The vehicle chooses between the most tempting place along the alleged coastal strip and drill samples that can be packed in a container and abandoned on the ground to collect later.

NASA and its European counterpart, ESA, are planning a joint project to restore up to 40 samples of the vehicle, probably in the early 2030s.


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