Mars rocks collected by rover boost case for ancient life

Reuters
Reuters

The six-wheeled robot collected its first sample, dubbed “Montdenier” on September 6, and its second, “Montagnac” from the same rock on September 8.



By AFP

Published: Sat 11 Sep 2021, 10:43 PM

Nasa’s Perseverance Mars rover has now collected two rock samples, with signs that they were in contact with water for a long period of time boosting the case for ancient life on the Red Planet.

“It looks like our first rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment,” said Ken Farley, project scientist for the mission, in a statement on Friday. “It’s a big deal that the water was there for a long time.”

The six-wheeled robot collected its first sample, dubbed “Montdenier” on September 6, and its second, “Montagnac” from the same rock on September 8.

Both samples, slightly wider than a pencil in diameter and about six centimetres long, are now stored in sealed tubes in the rover’s interior.

A first attempt at collecting a sample in early August failed after the rock proved too crumbly to withstand Perseverance’s drill.

The rover has been operating in a region known as the Jezero Crater, just north of the equator and home to a lake 3.5 billion years ago, when conditions on Mars were much warmer and wetter than today. The rock that provided the first samples was found to be basaltic in composition and likely the product of lava flows. Volcanic rocks contain crystalline minerals that are helpful in radiometric dating.


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