NASA’s Perseverance Rover Discovers Water-Formed Rocks on Mars
Kaley Peterson-Mazzola| September 3, 2022
On August 25, NASA’s Perseverance Rover tweeted, “I came to the ancient lakebed of Jezero Crater expecting lots of sedimentary rocks. I see them now at the old river delta, but the crater floor was a surprise; lots of volcanic rocks.”
Space Agency NASA’s Perseverance Rover launched on July 30th, 2020 at Cape Canaveral SLC - 41. Manufactured by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the rover was created to explore the Jezero Crater of Mars. The Jezero Crater is located in the Syrtis Major Quadrangle, reaching roughly 28 miles in width. It is theorized to have once been a lake with plenty of water. Perseverance was collecting rocks in the Jezero Crater on August 25, 2022, which led to significant evidence that supports NASA’s lake theory. Perseverance had found rocks formed by water on Mars.
Why are rocks formed by water important to NASA’s Mars Mission? Sedimentary rocks are defined as those created by sediment with water or air. Mar’s atmosphere comprises carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and Agron. There are slight traces of oxygen, which makes it unlikely that air formed sedimentary rocks. The rocks that Perseverance discovered were formed by water. This is crucial to NASA’s Mars Mission as these rocks can contain signs of life on the red planet. Here on Earth, many organisms have been discovered inside old rocks. Scientists refer to them as fossils. The rocks discovered on Mars raises the question if scientists may find prior signs of different organisms. The rover has stored these rocks to bring back to Earth.
NASA unexpectedly found water-altered igneous rocks as well. Igneous rocks form when magma hardens and crystallizes. A research article named, “Aqueously altered igneous rocks sampled on the floor of Jezero Crater, Mars” has been released in the journal Science Advances that suggested these igneous rocks may come from an ancient period of Mars, where volcanoes and water were actively shaping the planet. The crater was more eroded than expected, leaving these igneous rocks as a surprise for NASA scientists! It is assumed the hardened, igneous rocks remained after the sedimentary rocks eroded.
Both the sedimentary and igneous rocks will make a journey to Earth for scientists to further examine their chemical composition. Scientists will also examine to determine the rock’s age and signs of life with help from astrobiologists. The collected samples will hopefully answer many answers about ancient life and activity on the red planet. Perseverance will continue to explore Mars and reveal the hidden geology untouched by man.
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