The Perseverance rover landed at Jezero Crater in 2020 and has since performed many complex analyses, particularly geochemical analyses. The existence of organic compounds, that is, those that contain carbon-hydrogen bonds, is not direct evidence of the existence of life, because they can be formed as a result of non-biological processes.
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and Imperial College London He performed the most comprehensive analysis of Martian rock samples that can be performed at the present time. They indicate the presence of water and organic compounds, but this cannot be determined one hundred percent from a distance – it is necessary to send samples to Earth. You can read more about it in the magazine Sciences.
a. Mark Sifton of Imperial College London says:
We hope one day these samples will make their way to Earth so we can look at evidence of water and possible organic matter, and investigate whether conditions were suitable for life in the early history of Mars.
Organic compounds in the Jezero crater
The rover had previously found organic compounds in the Jezero Delta, a geological formation that formed at the junction of a river and lake on the crater rim. A delta forms when a river carrying fine-grained sediment enters a deeper, slower-moving body of water. As the water spreads, it slows down rapidly, depositing the sediment it carries and retaining any microorganisms that may be present there.
In Jezero, scientists expected to find sedimentary rocks as water deposits layer by layer. But when the probe touched the surface of Mars, the floor of the crater revealed mineral-rich igneous rocks that showed traces of contact with water.
Substances such as carbonates or salts require water to circulate through igneous rocks, carving out niches and depositing molten minerals in various locations such as voids and fissures. Some of them seem to be ideal for potential organisms.
Metals and their organic compounds were detected using SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence of Organic Matters and Chemicals). Mounted on a robotic arm, the instrument is equipped with an array of instruments, including a Raman spectrometer, which uses a specific type of fluorescence to search for organic compounds, as well as to check their distribution in the material, giving insight into how they are used. It is kept in a specific location.
The Perseverance rover took many samples of igneous rocks that would be thoroughly studied on Earth once they hit it. That won’t be the case until around 2033.
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