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"Important discovery" in Jezero crater on Mars

“Important discovery” in Jezero crater on Mars

Scientists have revealed that Jezero crater on Mars was formed from volcanic magma, with the discovery of organic particles in the rocks and dust in the floor of the crater.

This is amid a number of results announced this week at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union. This is by no means evidence of life on Mars. Organic compounds are simply those that contain carbon-hydrogen bonds, and can be formed by any number of non-biological processes.

In fact, organic compounds have been detected on Mars before, both by Curiosity and the Mars Express.

But the results show that Martian rocks can preserve these compounds well, which in turn indicates that biological organic materials can also be preserved.

“Curiosity has also detected organic matter at its landing site inside Gale Crater,” says planetary scientist Luther Beagle of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. The discovery was made using Perseverance’s new tool called the Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals Survey, or SHERLOC for short.

Beagle explains: “What SHERLOC adds to the story is its ability to map the spatial distribution of organic matter within rocks and relate that organic matter to the minerals that are there. This helps us understand the environment in which the organic matter was formed. Further analysis must be done to determine how the specific organic matter is produced. “.

Perseverance landed on the red planet in February, in the Jezero crater region. It is believed that this place was once flooded, and is rich in clay minerals – properties of vital importance to the mission of Perseverance.

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The SHERLOC instrument, for example, was able to detect a group of organic minerals at Jezero. And these were not only in the rocks that the rover scraped up for the purpose of studying its internal contents, but in the dust that covered the floor of the crater.

Among other Perseverance instruments, the Planetary X-ray Lithology Instrument (PIXL), which also allowed scientists to learn the source of the underlying rocks at Jezero. After taking a core sample in a region called “Brac”, the PIXL data clearly showed the presence of crystals embedded in the pyroxene crystals.

Here on Earth, this mineral formation is igneous in origin, which indicates that the floor of Jezero crater was formed from hot magma, according to “rt”.

“A good student of geology will tell you that such texture indicates rock formation when crystals slowly grew and settled in cold magma – for example a dense lava flow, a lava lake or a magma chamber,” says geologist Ken Farley of Caltech. The rock has been altered by water several times, making it a treasure trove that will allow future scientists to date events at Jezero, better understand the period when water was most common on its surface, and reveal the early history of the planet.”