NASA’s life-hunting rover has hit a major milestone. Perseverance has safely arrived at the ancient Red Planet River Delta, NASA reported April 19, 2022. Engineers said the delta would be “a real geological feast” for Perseverance, which is on the hunt for signs of fossilized Martian life.
On the 406th Martian day of its mission, the Perseverance rover, operating on Mars, reached the delta of the ancient Jezero River, where it will take samples of fossilized deposits for chemical analysis.
According to Phys.org, the Perseverance rover made a real breakthrough, covering a distance of five kilometers in a record time for it – in just 31 Martian days. As a result, he arrived at the delta of the ancient river, located on the edge of the Jezero impact crater.
“The Jezero Crater Delta promises to be a real geological feast and one of the best places on Mars to look for signs of past microbial life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, a member of the research mission.
Previous studies have shown that the delta is a massive fan-shaped accumulation of rocks and sediments, which may include organic matter. At the very least, the analysis of samples to be taken by the rover will be focused on finding its traces.
The delta is located on the western edge of the Jezero. It is believed that it was formed at the confluence of an ancient Martian river into a huge lake that filled this crater billions of years ago. The bottom of the delta is covered with fine-grained sediments, which, according to experts, “are the best choice for a mission to search for traces of ancient microbial life.”
The rover will take samples for analysis using a drill mounted on the end of the robotic arm. This science campaign will be the second in this mission. It starts ahead of schedule. A key focus of the Perseverance mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover explores the geology and climate of the planet in the past.