Mars rover Perseverance to collect first rock samples from ancient lake bed

Mars rover Perseverance to collect first rock samples from ancient lake bed
Image: Nasa Perseverance Mars/Twitter

Mars Perseverance rover is preparing to collect its first rock sample from an ancient lake bed. This comes as its mission to search for signs of past life begins in earnest. NASA confirmed Wednesday.

This collection is expected to take place within two weeks in a region that scientists are much interested in— the Jezero Crater. It is called the ‘Cratered Floor Fractured Rough.’

Perseverance had landed on Mars on February 18, and over the summer moved about a kilometre to the south of its landing site.

Scientists believe that the crater was once home to an ancient lake. And this lake apparently filled and drew down multiple times, potentially creating the conditions necessary for life.

After analysing the samples, it showed the clues about the rocks’ chemical and mineral composition. It gave a fair idea about whether they were formed by volcanoes or are sedimentary in origin.

Apart from filling the gaps in scientists’ geologic understanding of the region, Mars rover will also search for possible signs of ancient microbes.

Firstly, Perseverance will deploy its 7-foot long robotic arm to determine precisely where to take its sample. Using an abrasion tool it will expose the unweathered surfaces.

Each rock Perseverance analyses will have an untouched geologic ‘twin’. NASA is planning a return mission with the ESA to collect the stored samples and return them for lab analysis on Earth.

After that only will researchers be able to say something on signs of ancient life on Mars.

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