After a first failure, Mars rover Perseverance collected two rock samples last week. The rock from a rock in the Jezero crater, which NASA scientists called “Rochette”, was immediately subjected to initial investigations. So everything indicates that there was liquid water on Mars for a long time and thus a reasonably livable environment.
The samples taken on September 6th and 8th (“Montdenier” and “Montagnac”) is made of basalt according to NASA, which indicates that it could be a product of lava flows. In addition, salt minerals were discovered in the rock samples, which could possibly contain tiny drops of ancient liquid water. In any case, the salts indicate that groundwater could have flowed through the minerals in the rock and / or that liquid water has evaporated there.
Potentially habitable and sustainable environment
“It looks like our first rock samples show a potentially habitable and sustainable environment, ”says Caltech researcher Ken Farley, project manager at d he mission. According to Farley, it is very likely that there has been water in Jezero Crater for a long period of time. The fact that there must have been a lake in the crater is already a foregone conclusion for research. However, it is also unclear whether the water was only available there for a few years or for millions of years – decisive for whether microbial life could have formed.
For the scientists, however, the knowledge of the rock samples increases the likelihood of longer-lasting water resources. The rock samples now have to be examined more closely in a laboratory. This could make it possible in the future to show the chronological sequence of the various environmental conditions and thus to obtain a larger picture of the possible water resources on Mars, according to NASA. However, not all experts consider it a good idea to bring samples from Mars to Earth.
Analysis of the Mars rock samples on the earth
Perseverance is still looking for promising samples. These will be stored in sealed tubes made of titanium and will in future be deposited in various locations in depots. The tubes with the samples are then collected together with the Esa during later missions and brought to earth. It is still unclear when exactly this should take place.