The Perseverance rover launched by American space agency NASA has been collecting some of the most crucial samples from an old river delta in a bid to discover signs of life on Mars. The rover has found some organic matter in some of the recent samples, which suggest that Jezero Crater had potentially habitable surroundings 3.5 billion years ago. These samples are extremely important for scientists on Earth who are searching for proof of life on the Red Planet. Now NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) are developing plans for one of the most ambitious campaigns ever attempted in space: Bringing the first samples of Mars material safely back to Earth for detailed study.
In a release, NASA said that the process will happen in several steps with multiple spacecraft. The space agency has also released a short animation showcasing key moments of the Mars sample return campaign.
Watch the video:
It shows the mission will rendezvous with the Perseverance rover, which is storing samples of Martian rock and soil in its casing unit. These samples will be loaded onto the rocket before it begins its return journey.
The rocket will then launch from the Martian surface and return to Earth where scientists will study the samples, the video further shows.
The rock samples are expected to contain a distinctive bio-signatures that will help researchers understand whether life existed on Mars when the climate was much different than what it is today.
NASA’s second rover, Perseverance, successfully landed on Mars in February 2021 after being launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in July 2020. Since then, the rover has been operating on the Red Planet and part of its mission is to search for evidence of past microbial life.
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