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NASA stumbles upon mysterious rocks hiding in ancient Martian lake

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NASA Perseverance Rover We recently analyzed a strangely familiar pile of rocks on Mars, like where volcanoes flow Meet the Pacific Ocean in Hawaii, or where Iceland meets the Atlantic Ocean. This area, called the Seita Formation, is the site of the latest research into the waters that may have flowed through the region billions of years ago.

Perseverance landed Mars February 2021. thrilling descent and its debut 4 pound helicopter Ingenuity, a sidekick, began a mission to explore its new home Jezero CraterScientists believe this 28-mile-wide feature once contained an ancient lake. Not surprisingly, the crater is a prime target for those who think Mars could have sustained life. There is also a mystery as to how the igneous rocks of Jezero were formed. Scientists believe theta formed when a thick layer of lava or a pool of magma cooled, but scientists don’t know what created the molten state in the first place. After cooling, the rocks were contacted with a small amount of water under conditions likely to support microbial life.

Jezero’s Rocky Mountains appear in three new studies. Two studies have been published in scientific progress (focused on rover data Mustcam-Z musical instruments, and about one PIXL device findings), and another study has been published chemistry (Dive to Mars) ancient geochemistry). Among their findings, one team found that rocks may carry biosignatures.

Here is the background— Séítah is a Navajo (Dineh) word that means “in the sand”.

Mars appears dry and arid, but the delta formation west of Jezero suggests that currents once flowed in a wetter environment than they do today.

NASA tour of the delta of Jezero Crater on Mars.

There were several interactions between wet and volcanic conditions. “The Séítah Formation is a rocky mass formed by the cooling of either a thick sheet of lava or a pool of magma that was still underground,” says geobiologist Michael Tice, lead author of the paper. I’m talking reverse“At this point, we don’t know where the lava or magma came from.”

Some rocks contain olivine, a greenish volcanic material also found on Earth. Scientists have hypothesized what created olivine because orbital missions can identify large amounts of material from space. Possible explanations for its existence include melting due to meteor impact and volcanic ash deposition.

“Olivine is a common and important mineral in a class of igneous rocks (basalt When gabbros) are found in oceanic crust on Earth and in places like Hawaii and Iceland,” says Tice.

“Olivine is interesting for many reasons, but in our case it is important because it tends to react more quickly with water than other minerals that commonly occur together. It teaches us a lot about water,” he adds.

With Perseverance, researchers found that olivine was only slightly altered by water. That water was cold and “seeped through the bottom of the crater,” Tice says. Later he found that even if there is evidence of two water passage stages, these stages show far less rock change than would generally be expected for similar rocks on Earth. .

Important reasons — “Every time water moved through the rock, the condition of the rock changed, small communities of microbes could have formed, and many of the new minerals formed could have preserved evidence of life. Yes,” says Tice.

But another study of the trio showed that there were some nasty chemicals At one point in Jezero water. One group in particular, called perchlorates, is rare on earth. Scientists have found traces of this salt in olivine from a rock group near Seita called Mars. As we know it would have been tough to live with this chemical.

What’s next – “We don’t yet know how that organic matter formed, but we will know a lot more when the samples return to Earth,” says Tice.

The next phase of the Perseverance mission is the Mars Sample Return, in which NASA and the European Space Agency will send sample-carrying robots to Mars. Its first component is tentatively he is scheduled to launch in 2027. If they bring his Perseverance rock collection to Earth for in-depth analysis around 2033, humanity will finally know if there was life on the neighboring planet.

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