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Des chercheurs de la Nasa montrent que Perseverance se déplace depuis son arrivée sur Mars sur un sol formé de roches magmatiques. © NASA, JPL-Caltech, ASU, MSSS

Persevere rolling over igneous rocks and discovering organic matter

Astronomers thought it was sedimentary, but new data brought back to Earth by NASA’s Perseverance rover shows that the rocks it’s been rolling on since arriving on Mars in February 2020 were formed from volcanic material. Lava may have flowed there in the past and this is completely unexpected news.

It has now been nearly a year since then determinationNASA’s rover has landed on the surface of Mars. Almost a year travels through the crater Jezero. And the researchers who use the data you send back to Earth have just announced amazing news. According to them, perseverance will roll from the start on a land made up of Magmatic.

Even before sending their rover there, NASA researchers wondered what the soil in this hole was like. They wondered if it consisted of more than sedimentary rocks or igneous rocks. The first is the result of an accumulation of mineral particles that were eventually carried there by an ancient river system. seconds as a result of hardening a magma From long dormant volcano.

This is thanks to the Pixl tool – for Planetary instrument for X-ray petrochemistry Researchers have finally found the answer. The purpose of the instrument is to determine the elemental composition of materials in Mars surface by lithochemistry X ray. It takes advantage of the holes provided by the drill installed at the end of the arm robotic perseverance. This can, in fact, scrape or grind rocky surfaces.

Volcanic rocks in Jezero crater

A few days ago, a rock nicknamed Brak and captured in the south of Sitah revealed its composition: large crystals ofolivine Pyroxene crystals are soaked in unusual quantities. A rock mark formed from crystals deposited in a slow cooling pool.

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The researchers add that the rocks in question were then exposed to repeated water weathering. This makes it a treasure that will allow future scholars to chronicle the events that occurred in Jezero crater, to understand the period in which it wasWater was more common on its surface Revealing the beginnings of the history of Mars, identifies Ken Farley, a researcher on the team, in a NASA press release. It remains to be determined whether these olive-rich rocks formed in a lake Make Heavy cooling on the surface or in an underground room that was subsequently subjected to corrosion.

Because Perseverance also aims to sample Martian rocks – in particular to search for traces of life – intended to be brought back to Earth by another mission. What to study in more detail the respective samples.

Exciting Preliminary Results

The researchers took advantage of a press conference on Wednesday to also mention that a machine called Sherlock – for Scanning habitable environments with Raman & Luminescence for organics and chemicals – In the meantime, I got organic particles, not only in eroded rocks, but also in uncorroded rock dust. “It is sufficient to map the spatial distribution of organic matter within the rocks and to relate these organic matter to it metal This is right there. This helps us understand the environment in which organic matter was formed. Further analysis is required to determine how these molecules are produced.”, identifies Luther Beagle, responsible for Project Sherlock. So there is no certainty yet regarding the proof of life. But it seems that the presence of preserved organic matter at least means that potential bio-fingerprints can also be preserved. To find out more, we will have to wait for the samples to return to Earth.

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Meanwhile, scientists also continue to use data sent by Rimfax – to Radar imaging of the Mars subsurface experiment -, the “radar” on which underground structures appear from red planet Its depth reaches 10 meters. They already made it possible to confirm that an intermediate region formed before a region The rough pit floor broke. And they should soon bring other valuable information about geology Martian.

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