NASA has announced that it will use a set of instruments for the Mars 2020 rover to look for microscopic fossils, foreign media slash Gear reported. Experts have chosen an ideal location for fossils at the Jezero Crater crater on the Red Planet. The project is part of NASA’s mission to determine the existence of life on Mars.
Assuming everything goes according to plan, the Mars 2020 rover will land on the Red Planet in mid-February 2021, which will launch nasa’s latest exploration of the planet. The rover has a new set of instruments that will bring more capabilities to NASA’s work, allowing the rover to focus on astrobiology and look for signs of microbial life in ancient Martian history.
As detailed in a study published Wednesday, Mars’ Jezelo crater has a carbonate-filled inner edge. These carbonates – at least on Earth – are part of shells and other objects that could eventually be fossilized, after which they can be preserved for billions of years.
Nasa is particularly interested in laminated stones. On Earth, laminated stone is a fossil formed by algae bonding and precipitating calcium, magnesium carbonate and its debris particles in seawater during the course of life’s activity. Scientists believe a similar structure may be found on the coastline of the Jezelo Crater, which surrounds areas that were once ancient lakes before the surface water of Mars disappeared.
Some of the samples collected from these areas may return to Earth for future analysis, according to NASA. Similarly, these same sediments will help illustrate the transition from Mars to today’s dusty desert world. The rover will spend two years studying the bottom of the crater and the surrounding delta.