NASA rover captures strange snakehead rock and one in perfect balance on Mars

It left Earth on July 30, 2021 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, USA and after a six and a half month journey the robotic vehicle perseverance of NASA arrived on Mars, with the aim of discovering traces of life of 3 billion years ago on the red planet.

This is the first mission that the agency devotes to astrobiology: the search for life, perhaps the current life, or the old life in another world.

The vehicle is located in an ancient river delta in Jezero Crater, where a lake existed billions of years ago.

Illustration showing what Jazero Crater would have looked like when it was a lake, fed by a river, where Perseverance is located today. Credit: NASA

This delta is one of the best places on Mars for the rover to search for signs of past microscopic life. Using a drill at the end of his robotic arm and a complex sample-taking system on his stomach, Perseverance collects rock cores to return to Earththe first part of the Mars Sample Return campaign, which will travel to the planet to bring these samples back to our planet.

During its exciting journey through the ancient delta, this Sunday he took a photo that surprised the scientists of the space agency. To the left of the shot, a boulder perches staggeringly on a slab of gray rock. And on the right, a formation which looks a lot like a snake’s head with its mouth open it protrudes from the layers of a reddish hill.

The image was taken with the Right Mastcam-Z camera, which is located atop the rover’s mast. Photo: NASA

The Perseverance team was very excited about this Martian landscape, but not because they believed the supposed snake was a fossil or something similar. The stratified hill appears to be part of the ancient river delta which once existed inside the 45 kilometer wide Jezero Crater, where the six-wheeled robot and its small companion, the Ingenuity helicopter, landed.

Perseverance has two main missions: look for signs of past life on mars if it ever existed, and collect and store dozens of samples for future return to Earth. The ancient Jezero Delta is the best place for the rover to do this jobsays team members Perseverance; in fact, the delta’s existence is the main reason the rover was sent to Jezero.

One of the scientists who was taken aback by the photograph was NASA planetary geologist Corrine Rojas, who noted on her Twitter account: “So much to see on Mars this week! #PerseveranceRover it’s Hogwallow Flats and WOW, it’s a space geologist’s wonderland! The rock in smooth balance in the center? How did it get there and stay there across the Martian sands of time?

“The delta is so important that we actually decided to minimize science activities and focus on driving to get there faster,” Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley of Caltech said as the rover landed on the planet to justify the site chosen by Perseverance. The NASA. “We will take many pictures of the delta on this trip. The closer we get, the more impressive these images will be.” predicted, long before this image was published.

In its task, Perseverance was assisted by a small helicopter or drone, called Ingenuity, which explored the surface of the crater from the air, explore routes and try to find interesting scientific targets for the rover to steer towards.

The helicopter has been doing this reconnaissance work since it completed its primary mission, an initial campaign of 30 days and five flights designed to show that powered flight is possible on Mars despite the planet’s weak atmosphere.

NASA’s Perseverance rover is a year old on Mars, but after an introductory stage, it will now begin a new mission described as the most important since being on Martian soil. The self-driving vehicle will have to scale a mound of an ancient delta that formed a Martian river to collect rocks that could harbor signs of extraterrestrial life that may have existed on the Red Planet’s surface millions of years ago.

The Perseverance Mars rover looks at its wheel tracks on March 17, 2022. Photo: Nasa

The journey that began on March 14, and during which the robot traveled 5 kilometers, to an ancient river delta inside the Jezero crater, where a lake existed billions of years ago.

This delta is one of the best places on Mars for the rover to look for signs of past microscopic life, because the crater was a kind of lake in the past, so This is a great place to search for remains of life. if there were any in the distant past of Mars.

If on Earth, rivers and rains carry bodies and elements of life and stay in beds like lakes, that’s what scientists hope to find in this crater, much more than finding a skeleton (which we would find here) evidence on Mars is likely organic material embedded in rocks.

So, using a drill at the end of his robotic arm and a complex sample-taking system on his stomach, Perseverance will collect rock cores to return to Earththe first installment of the Mars Sample Return campaign, a project that aims to send a spacecraft to the red planet to collect the samples collected by the rover.

Likewise, the robot must “condition” the samples collected, so that at the end of this decade they are sent to Earth and can thus be analyzed in depth.

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