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HomeTech & GadgetsNo sign of the expected lake bed where Perseverance rover landed

No sign of the expected lake bed where Perseverance rover landed

Image of the rover's mast in the red environment of Mars.
Enlarge / No, these donut tracks aren’t mine, officer.

The Perseverance rover landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater largely due to intensive proof that the crater as soon as hosted a lake, which means the presence of liquid water which may as soon as have hosted Martian life. And the touchdown was a hit, inserting the rover on the fringe of a construction that appeared to be a river delta the place the close by highlands drained into the crater.

However a abstract of the primary 12 months of knowledge from the rover, revealed in three completely different papers being launched right now, means that Perseverance has but to stumble throughout any proof of a watery paradise. As an alternative, all indications are that water publicity within the areas it explored was restricted, and the waters have been prone to be close to freezing. Whereas this does not rule out that it’ll discover lake deposits later, the setting may not have been as welcoming for all times as “a lake in a crater” may need prompt.

Placing all of it collectively

Perseverance might be thought of a platform for a big suite of devices that present an image of what the rover is taking a look at. Even its “eyes,” a pair of cameras on its mast, can create stereo photographs with 3D data, and provide data on what wavelengths are current within the photographs. It additionally has devices that may be held as much as rocks to find out their content material and construction; sample-handling {hardware} can carry out a chemical evaluation of supplies taken from rocks.

Whereas the brand new data is split into separate papers based mostly on the devices the info got here from, the important thing factor is that every one three paint a constant image and construct off one another.

For instance, the spectroscopy instruments present particulars of a pattern’s chemical composition however they do not inform us how these chemical compounds are distributed in a rock. In distinction, there are X-ray evaluation instruments that supply inexact chemical data, however they inform us how the chemical compounds it detects are positioned in comparison with the rock’s seen options. And the cameras on the rover’s masks will help us establish how extensively distributed related rocks are.

Collectively, these instruments inform us that Perseverance sampled rocks from two completely different deposits up to now. The primary contains the crater ground the place it landed, which is wealthy in iron- and magnesium-based minerals. Above that could be a separate formation that seems to be volcanic rock, though we won’t rule out that it was fashioned by rock liquified following an impression.

Each deposits have been clearly formed by processes we all know are taking place on Mars. Most of the rocks have been formed by the wind and will have skilled some chemical alterations because of the ambiance or radiation publicity. In locations shadowed from the wind, unfastened regolith has constructed up, a lot of it with Mars’ attribute crimson tint. There’s additionally quite a lot of particles from impacts, together with some smaller ones throughout the Jezero crater.

However the huge query is whether or not the supplies present indications that water was current. The reply there’s a little bit of a “sure, however…”

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