Since landing last February, NASA ‘s Perseverance rover appears to have been busy exploring Jazero Crater, giving scientists hope.
The robot’s mission is to look for signs of ancient microbial life. Mars rovers collect rock and soil samples that could help answer the question of whether there may be life on Mars, past or present.
The samples collected by Perseverance could be returned to Earth for analysis.
Perseverance’s mission is now underway, and a collection of samples sealed in tubes will eventually make their way to Earth via the Mars Sample Return Programme.
It is, of course, very difficult to prove that life once existed on Mars. However, the rover may have already found the evidence it needs.
“Perseverance, and indeed any other rover, would not be able to provide definitive data proving the past existence of life on the Red Planet,” said John Mustard, professor of Earth, environmental and planetary sciences at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
However, there still seems to be a long way to go to get “far.”
“Aside from the discovery of complex life forms in a fossil, there is no evidence that the rover could collect anything important,” Mustard said. “Geologic morphology and chemistry too often produce forms and chemical signals that are mistaken for life on Earth, let alone Mars!”
“We need samples to find signs of life because the life we can reasonably expect to find could be microscopic single-celled organisms that lived billions of years ago. Their traces, whether organic or structural, will be difficult to detect with the resources and capabilities available on Perseverance,” the statement continues.
Scientists do not expect the surface samples collected by Perseverance to prove the existence of living or recently dead microbes because conditions on Mars are completely inhospitable.