As Perseverance is getting ready to start its mission to Mars, astrobiologists realized a dry trial to find out if the new rover is capable of detecting signs of ancient life on Mars. The results were fantastic. The rover can find signs of life if Mars is resembling Australia.
Perseverance will liftoff this summer, barring any unexpected or anticipated circumstances, such as the current pandemic. But once at Mars, the rover will turn Jezero Crater into its home, where it will utilize its many tools to find any signs of habitability. The question is whether researchers on Earth will be able to identify those signs. The recent test shows positive results, but will these apply on Mars?
Perseverance Rover’s Mission of Finding Life on Mars
After a successful examination in the Flinders Ranges in southern Australia, the conditions from Mars are a far cry, due to its freezing temperatures. But it’s the best we have so far. Bonnie Teece is an astrobiologist from the University of New South Wales and the main author of the recent study.
She explained the similarities between the Flinders Ranges and Mars, stating: “The Flinders Ranges is a perfect site to do a lot of Mars-related research in because it’s a dry, dusty, and windy area that is very barren and so a perfect analog for looking for life on Mars.” Teece and her team assembled the same tech that the rover will utilize once on Mars.
Such a suite of tools and devices comprised: the MASTCAM-Z camera, used for telling the candidate spots and visually track samples; SHERLOC, a spectrograph that Perseverance will use to detect organic compounds and biosignatures; and PIXL that utilizes x-ray lithochemistry to determine the chemical synthesis of rocks. Using these instruments, the team proved that Perseverance has what it takes to detect signs of ancient life on Mars, if they exist, of course.