Perseverance rover samples hint Mars had water for a long time

The Perseverance rover’s first rock samples from Mars are already providing insights. NASA researchers’ early analysis of the samples indicates water was present in Jezero Crater for a “long time” — think tens of thousands or millions of years. That, in turn, suggests Mars’ water was stable enough to make it relatively welcoming to microscopic life.

The mission team also detected crucial salts that might have formed when water flowed through the sampled rock. The salt might have not only trapped pockets of Mars’ old water, but could have preserved signs of life.

The two samples so far come from just one rock. It will take much longer to develop a better sense of Mars’ secrets. Perseverance won’t even collect samples from its next location, South Séitah, until after a weeks-long break where all missions on the planet will go into a “protective” state until the end of a Mars solar conjuction. The pause should take effect for everyone by early October. The samples won’t return to Earth until future missions collect the samples Perseverance left behind.

Even so, the early data bodes well for the Perseverance mission — the team has already discovered useful information about Mars’ history. These and other findings could not only reshape humanity’s understanding of the planet, but set the direction for future Mars exploration missions.

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The Perseverance rover’s first rock samples from Mars have provided insights. Early analysis of samples by NASA researchers showed that water has been in Jezero Crater for “a long time”—think tens of thousands or millions of years. In turn, this indicates that the water on Mars is stable enough to welcome microscopic life relatively.

The task team also detected important salt that may be formed when water flows through the sampled rocks. The salt may not only trap a part of Mars’ old water, but it also retains signs of life.
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So far, these two samples have only come from one rock. It will take longer to better understand the secrets of Mars. Perseverance will not even collect samples from its next location, South Séitah, until after several weeks of rest, all missions on Earth will enter a “protection” state until the Mars-Sun conjunct ends. The suspension should take effect for everyone in early October. The samples will not return to Earth until future missions collect the samples left by Perseverance.

Even so, the early data bodes well for the Perseverance mission—the team has discovered useful information about the history of Mars. These and other discoveries can not only reshape human understanding of the earth, but also point the way for future Mars exploration missions.

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