NASA has reached an important milestone in finding out if life exists beyond Earth once and for all.
The space agency’s Perseverance rover has arrived on the doorstep of a key point described as a “geological feast” for digging.
After more than a year on the Red Planet, the cute bot has reached a mysterious ancient river delta.
Experts believe we may finally be able to uncover signs of past microscopic life here.
“The answers are out there,” said Deputy NASA Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen.
The delta is a gold mine for explorers with a huge fan-shaped assemblage of rocks and sediments.
It is located on the western rim of a crater called Jezero, which contains a lake and river delta billions of years ago.
A special drill on the end of a robotic arm will soon get to work.
The best stones will eventually be returned to Earth, but that won’t start until the end of the decade.
Experts say it’s their “best bet” for discovering the preserved remains of ancient fossils.
The next big hurdle is the safe ascent to the top of the crater, about 40 meters from the finish.
“We have been remotely observing the delta for more than a year while exploring the crater floor,” said Ken Farley, Perseverance project scientist.
“At the end of our rapid traverse, we’re finally able to get close to it and get images of increasing detail showing where best to explore these important rocks.”
The mission will take a while
Perseverance is expected to take about eight samples.
And it won’t be a quick endeavor — scientists expect it will take half an Earth year to complete.
“The delta is why Perseverance was sent to Jezero Crater: it has so many interesting properties,” Farley said.
“We will look for signs of old life in the rocks at the foot of the delta, rocks that we believe were once mud at the bottom of Lake Jezero.
“Further up in the delta, we can see sand and rock fragments that came from upstream, perhaps from miles away.
“These are places the rover will never visit.
“We can harness an ancient Martian flow that has brought us the planet’s geological secrets.”
- Get the latest science news
- Stay up to date with the top stories about space and astronomy
- All archeology news from dinosaurs to ancient artifacts
Learn more about science
Want to learn more about the weird and wonderful world of science? From the moon to the human body, we’ve got you covered…
We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online Tech & Science Team? Email us at email@example.com
https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5161432/nasa-mars-perseverance-rover-aliens-delta-river-jezero-crater/ NASA Rover May Find Evidence of ALIEN Life on Mars When It Reaches ‘Ancient Martian River’