NASA’s Perseverance finds organic matter on Mars

The Perseverance Rover has collected samples having high concentration of organic matter from the Martian surface.

Key facts

  • The Perseverance Rover has collected several organic rock samples from an ancient river delta on Mars.
  • These samples are currently stored for collection by future Mars missions that would return them back to the Earth.
  • These rock samples have large concentration of organic matter, the highest concentration since the start of the mission.
  • With the latest collection, the rover has now collected a total of 12 samples.
  • One of the rocks the Perseverance collected was nicknamed as Wildcat Ridge. This rock was likely formed when mud and sand settled in a saltwater lake as it evaporated billions of years ago.
  • An instrument aboard the rover called SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) found that these samples contain a class of organic molecules that correlate with those of sulfate minerals.
  • Sulfate minerals found in layers of sedimentary rock can provide insights into the watery environment on which the rock samples were discovered.
  • The instrument’s analysis revealed that the organic materials may possibly be aromatics or stable molecules of carbon and hydrogen, which are connected to sulfates.
  • This suggests that when the lake was evaporating, both sulfates and organic molecules deposited, preserved and concentrated in the region.

About Perseverance Rover

Perseverance Rover was launched as part of the NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. Its objective is to explore the Martian surface and detect the signs of past and present life on the planet. Its landing site is Jezero Crater.

Jezero Crater

Jezero Crater spans across 45 km. it is a fan-shaped geological feature that is suspected to have hosted an ancient lake. It is believed that this site hosts evidences of Martian history in sedimentary rock, which formed when particles fused together in the previously water-filled environment.

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