NASA’s recent discovery on Mars could show the existence of “ancient microbial life.”
After gathering “high value” rock samples from an old Martian lakebed, NASA scientists are one step closer to finding evidence of alien life on Mars.
Less than seven months after arriving on Mars, NASA revealed on Friday that the Perseverance rover has successfully retrieved and stored its second rock sample. The two rock samples, called “Montdenier” and “Montagnac,” were taken from a region of Mars that was previously volcanically active and water-filled. Scientists believe that if extraterrestrial life had evolved on Mars, these would have been ideal circumstances for bacteria to thrive.
“It appears like our first pebbles suggest a possibly habitable prolonged environment,” said Ken Farley of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
“The fact that the water was present for such a long time is significant.”
The two rocks may have formed as a result of lava flows, and they contain a variety of interesting minerals that could help scientists learn more about Mars’s old climate.
The bone-dry planet, according to scientists, previously resembled a juvenile Earth, with a hot and humid atmosphere and bodies of water on the surface.
Perseverance, a NASA spacecraft, is currently exploring the Jezero Crater, which is 28 miles wide (45 kilometers) and was filled with water more than three billion years ago.
Scientists are unsure how long the water remained in the crater and whether it was long enough for life to emerge.
The volcanic materials preserved in the gathered samples will be analyzed to provide a more accurate picture of the conditions in Jezero billions of years ago.
Salt crystals found inside the rocks may have contained bubbles of old Martian water, according to scientists.
“If these rocks encountered water for lengthy periods of time, there may be habitable niches inside these rocks that might have supported ancient microbial life,” NASA geologist Katie Stack Morgan said at a press briefing.
“Salts are excellent minerals for retaining traces of ancient life on Earth,” she continued, “and we expect the same to be true for rocks on Mars.”
After an earlier effort failed, the rover gathered its first sample on September 6.
On September 8, the second rock core was drilled out of the “Rochette” rock formation.
“These samples have tremendous value for future laboratory analysis back on,” said Mitch Schulte, the mission’s programme scientist at NASA Headquarters.