NASA’s grand Mars mission has reached a critical stage in its search for signs of extraterrestrial life.
A six-wheeled robot that has been on the Red Planet for over a year is about to scale an ancient delta that may harbor evidence of past life.
The Perseverance rover will use a drill to hunt down rock samples it believes may hold the crucial answer.
It will then go back down and drop off the parts at the base to collect on a later mission.
Space experts hope to return the samples to Earth for study sometime in the 2030s.
Much of Nasa’s work has focused on a part of Mars known as Jezero Crater, where Perseverance arrived in February 2021.
So far, it’s mostly been testing alongside its helicopter buddy Ingenuity.
Scientists need to be clear about where to collect samples since they only have 43 collection tubes at their disposal.
They hope to find out if they contain ancient microbes and organic matter.
“The delta at Crater Jezero promises to be a true geological feast and one of the best places on Mars to look for signs of past microscopic life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
“The answers are out there – and Team Perseverance is ready to find them.”
It comes after a recent scare that saw Nasa lose contact with its Mars helicopter for two days.
Scientists believe the $80 million Ingenuity helicopter has felt the wrath of the Red Planet’s vicious dust and extremely cold conditions.
The dust prevents the tech from catching sunlight that powers it, causing its clocks to get out of sync with the Perseverance rover on the ground.
This meant the base station wasn’t listening when the helicopter thought it was time to send data to the rover.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8810970/nasa-mars-perseverance-rover-collect-rock-samples/ The Nasa rover reaches the critical ancient Martian river where it could find ALIEN life – and is sent back to Earth