A key element of NASA’s Mars exploration program, the Perseverance rover is a Mars rover designed to explore the Jezero crater on Mars. The rover landed successfully on Mar on February 12, 2021, and ever since the landing, the rover has moved miles across the Martial surface in the creator with its prime objective to find signs and evidence of ancient life and also importantly, o look into the history of water on the Red planet.
The rover was successful in collecting many valuable data about the Martial surface.
The breakthrough news about the latest findings of the Perseverance was made known to the world only after the team behind the rover’s development published three research papers that explained the rover’s findings in detail.
According to planetary scientist and the co-author of one of the new studies Briony Horgan, the data collected by the rover reveals a ‘story of fire and water.’ According to her explanation, scientists were able to understand the complex history of the crater floor by studying geology through advanced technologies.
Experiments and studies regarding the presence of water on Mars had been an area of great interest to scientists as water is one of the basic elements that is needed to support life.
Finding water on another planet can possibly lead us to a new form of alien life or at let can be used to support our own kind during space travel, which makes the subject more fascinating to the scientists involved.
The search for water on the surface of Mars had been discussed by scientists from the first images of Valles Marineris, which is believed to be a water-carved canyon on Mars, which was obtained through Mariner9 in the 1970s.
The search for evidence of water on Mars was later strengthened by the evidence gathered by landers like Phoenix, which dug up direct evidence of water ice in 2008. With the evidence that is obtained as of now, scientists are certain that Mars’s surface had water at some point and they are now trying to figure out the amount and timeline of the water flow.
The area Jezero Crater, which was explored by the Perseverance rover also has a particular significance relating to the history of water on Mars. The area is calculated to have been a river delta that flowed right into a lake that was situated in the crater itself.
Briony Horgan, the planetary scientist associated with the Mar study made it clear that the rocks collected from the crater were much older than any collected from different landing sites, so that the details of ancient times in Mars history, which is considered the most habitable time on Mars by the scientist, will be understood better by us.
It was also revealed that the different combinations of iron-rich minerals like Olivine and pyroxene are found in the samples gathered by the rover. Such minerals are usually found in areas of volcanic eruption and also substances like hematite, which are versions of minerals that had come in contact with substances like water and brine.
The presence of all these minerals gives rise to the theory of flowing lava on Mars which had come in contact with water more than a single time. Scientists believe that when the water flowed for the first time, it was warm and later turned salty.
They conclude that this flow of water could have taken the form of lakes or may been even flone between rocks underground.
The scientists behind the Mars exploration team are excited about the fact that there had been pieces of evidence that prove that water had appeared multiple times in the past on Mars. According to the statement they gave Space.com, more water means more opportunities for life if it ever existed.
The rover was also successful in carrying out two ‘bonus missions’ that made use of its technologies like the MOXIE experiment which enables the creation of oxygen from the atmosphere of Mars and also the Ingenuity helicopter, which is a technology that enables the rover to fly. Not only did the rover prove the tech to be working but also helped in having a bird’s eye view for the rover.