NASA to search for fossils on Martian crater

  • Tuesday 19, November 2019 12:19 PM
Sharjah24 – Reuters: NASA plans to send its Mars 2020 rover to search for signs of ancient life on Mars' Jezero Crater.
In a news release, the space agency pointed to a recent study published in the journal Icarus which identified mineral deposits called carbonates along the crater's inner rim.

The study says that a lake was at the site of the Martian crater more than 3.5 billion years ago.

NASA says its Mars 2020 rover will collect rock core samples from the Martian surface, noting that carbonates on the crater could be preserving signs of past life.

Scientists say these mineral deposits could also reveal how the red planet evolved from having liquid water and a thicker atmosphere to a cold, dry desert. Carbonate minerals are formed as carbon dioxide and water interact with one another.

NASA also pointed to another study which found hydrated silica, minerals that are also capable of preserving ancient life, on the edge of the Jezero Crater. This could be an ideal location for the Mars 2020 rover to search for buried microbial fossils, especially if the minerals are located at the crater's bottom layer.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover will be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in 2020.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger project by NASA that includes lunar missions in order to prepare humans to eventually explore the red planet.