Perseverance has Discovered a Good Patch of Sandstone on Mars


NASA’s rolling geology robotic shared an important picture of sandstone that it discovered on Mars in Jezero Crater. It’s in a area referred to as “Yori Go”, which is a part of an historic river delta. Perseverance will take rock samples there for the upcoming Pattern Return Mission. They need to inform extra about what occurred with water on this area. And perhaps they’ll present proof of life.

What’s So Essential about Sandstone?

Most of us have run throughout sandstone at one time or one other right here on Earth. It’s a rock fashioned when water carries sand from one place to a different and deposits it. This could possibly be in a lake or ocean surroundings, on an historic seashore, or alongside the perimeters of rivers. Some sandstones are additionally created when the wind blows sand into dunes. Over time, all these sand layers harden into stable rock. That rock tells a chemical and bodily story in regards to the situations on the time it was laid down.

A sandstone formation on Earth discovered within the Valley of Hearth Nevada State Park. This space was as soon as lined by an inland sea that receded and left behind sand deposits. Winds deposited extra sand within the space, and the layers hardened into rock. Courtesy United States Geological Survey.

On Mars, each sorts of sandstone exist. Nevertheless, on this specific space of Jezero Crater, flowing water deposited sand and small pebbles. Right here on Earth, that type of motion additionally included natural supplies resembling vegetation and animals. Whereas we haven’t but discovered proof for that on Mars, it does increase attention-grabbing questions in regards to the potentialities for all times.

“We frequently prioritize the examine of fine-grained sedimentary rocks like this one in our seek for organics and potential biosignatures,” mentioned Katie Stack Morgan, Perseverance deputy venture scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “What’s particularly attention-grabbing in regards to the Yori Go outcrop is that it’s laterally equal to ‘Hogwallow Flats,’ the place we discovered very fine-grained sedimentary rocks. That implies that the rock mattress is situated on the similar elevation as Hogwallow, and has a big, traceable footprint seen on the floor.”

sandstone at Hogwallow Flats
Sandstone in Hogwallow Flats, the place Perseverance visited earlier in 2022. The rocks are very fine-grained sandstone. Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Hogwallow Flats is a area the place Perseverance additionally studied sandstones. As talked about above, when water deposits sand and different rocks, it carries alongside different stuff. All of it turns into a part of the rock document, too. Particularly, Martian clay and mudstones curiosity planetary scientists. That’s as a result of clays can “bind” natural molecules to themselves and shield them from environmental degradation. So, the examine of Martian sandstones stays a high precedence as mission scientists put collectively a clearer image of the planet’s historic previous.

Water and the Hunt for Life

Perseverance, together with the opposite Mars probes on the floor, continues its seek for proof of flowing water. That’s not shocking, since a significant background theme of the mission is to comply with the water. Rocks that come into contact with water at all times give bodily and chemical proof of that encounter. If there was any life in that watery surroundings, scientists hope that Perseverance will collect biosignatures that they’ll examine. Or, failing to seek out life indicators, the rover could discover natural molecules that point out the potential of life.

Natural molecules are compounds of principally carbon and often embrace hydrogen and oxygen atoms. They could even have nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. All kinds of processes can produce natural molecules—they aren’t at all times on account of life. However, they’re all chemical constructing blocks of life. So, in the event that they present up in a chemical evaluation of rocks, then they could possibly be biosignatures. They may also be indicators of another course of that occurred on the planet previously.

A view from Curiosity of sandstone and different sorts of rocks in Gale Crater. This picture is from a spot the place the rover stopped referred to as “the Kimberley”. Courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Now, the Curiosity rover in Gale Crater has discovered these chemical constructing blocks of life in its searches. So, if the natural molecules had been there, then maybe in addition they existed at Jezero Crater the place Perseverance is rolling alongside in its ongoing mission. That additionally contains the in-depth examine of rocks, accumulating samples, and gathering info that Mars explorers can use once they get to the Purple Planet.

For Extra Data

NASA’s Perseverance Rover Investigates Intriguing Martian Bedrock
Positive-Grained Rocks at Hogwallow Flats
Mars Perseverance Science Targets

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