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Rock samples collected from Mars have discovered that water was once present on the planet, revealing alien life could have existed.
The Perseverance rover discovered the rocks, which NASA scientists believe provides significant evidence of a water source for a long period of time.
Scientists noticed salts spotted within the rocks and this is most likely due to groundwater flowered through the rocks or when the liquid evaporated.
“It looks like our first rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment,” said Ken Farley of Caltech, project scientist for the mission, which is led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.
“It’s a big deal that the water was there a long time.”
The rover collected two samples now named “Montdenier”, found on September 6, and the second, “Montagnac” from the same rock on September 8.
It is hoped analysis of both samples and from the rover’s previous sampling attempt, will help the NASA science team piece together a timeline of this particular area of Mars
The samples have already revealed marks from periods of persistent water and from volcanic activity.
The rock on the mission’s first core samples is believed to have been formed as the product of lava flows. Scientists hope that the volcanic origin could help scientists accurately date when it formed.
The samples were taken from the Jezero Crater due to scientists' belief that it was once filled with a lake, with the recent discovery adding to the theory.
“These samples have high value for future laboratory analysis back on Earth,” said Mitch Schulte of NASA Headquarters, the mission’s program scientist.
“One day, we may be able to work out the sequence and timing of the environmental conditions that this rock’s minerals represent. This will help answer the big-picture science question of the history and stability of liquid water on Mars.”
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Perseverance will continue searching the crater floor for samples but all of the Mars missions will be standing down for Mars solar conjunction at the start of October.
Mars solar conjunction is when Mars and Earth will be on opposite sides of the Sun. When this period happens, communications between Earth and Mars are interrupted and commands can be corrupted due to gas.
To be safe, Nasa engineers hold off on sending their commands for a few weeks until the period is over.
- Spaced Out
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