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NASA’s next Mars mission will look for signs of extra-terrestrial life

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NASA has discovered a haven on Mars, which may once have hosted life, and the next mission to the Red Planet to see if there is any fossil evidence of alien life.

Two new studies have found that the Lake Crater, where the Mars 2020 rover is slated to land on Aug. 18, 2021, and contains the mineral deposits of hydrated silica gel, a substance that is “very good” on the preservation of biosignatures.

With the help of a technology that will help us to find out more rare and hard-to-detect-a mineral phase, the data is out of a job space, we find that the two outcrops of hydrated silica within the Jezero crater,” said the lead author of the research, Jesse Tarnas, in a statement. “We’re out of the Earth, which is the mineral phase, it is rare for the preservation of microfossils and other biosignatures, so that makes this a focused, exciting goals for the rover to explore.”

Lighter colors indicate higher elevation, in the view of the Jezero Crater on Mars, site of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. The oval shows the landing ellipse, which is where the rover will touch down on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL/ESA

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In November 2018, NASA announced that it had chosen the Lake Crater, a 28-meter-wide hole in the ground, as well as the location where the Mars 2020 will land rover on the Red Planet.

Lake may be the home of a former lake, and was the rivers that flow into the lake. The presence of silica, could be a huge coup for the finding of a fossil is evidence of life, said Jack Mustard, one of the study’s co-authors.

The researchers used data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and found out two sites in the Lake Crater and that contain silica deposits.

“It’s the material that forms the base of a delta, may be the most productive in terms of the preservation of biosignatures,” Mustard added, in a statement. “So, if you can find it under the setting to low, and low did a lot of silica in it, then that’s a double bonus.”

In this study, which was published in the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters.

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In a separate study, published in the scientific journal Icarus, the researchers using the CRISM data in order to find a “bath ring” of carbonate minerals along the inside the edge of the Lake. NASA said the cb is also useful for the preservation of ancient life in fossil form, in particular the mention of sea shells, corals, and some of the stromatolites.

The color is added to highlight the minerals that are in the image of Jezero Crater on Mars, site of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. The green color represents the minerals, called carbonates, which are especially effective in the preservation of fossils of life on Earth. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL/Purdue/USGS)

“CRISM spotted the soda ash here, many years ago, but we have recently noticed is how focused they are, which is a lakeshore would have to be,” said the paper’s lead author, Briony Horgan, in a statement posted on NASA’s web site. “We’re going to encounter of carbonate deposits in a lot of places in the mission, but the bathtub ring is one of the most exciting places to visit.”

It is unclear as to when the carbonates were formed, but the Mars 2020 deputy project scientist, Ken Williford said that the mere presence of them has been exciting for researchers in the field.

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“The possibility that the marginal carbonates formed within the lake and surrounding area is one of the most exciting features that led us to our Lake landing site,” Williford added in the statement. “Carbonate chemistry in an old bank, it is a great recipe for the preservation of the records of the old life and the environment. We can’t wait to get to the surface, and see how it carbonates to be formed.”

Earlier this month, NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered oxygen “to act in a way that many people are not able to say,” on the Red Planet. In June, the Curiosity, which is exploring the Gale Crater since it landed on Mars in August 2012, was discovered in an “extremely high” levels of methane on Mars.

On Earth, methane is produced both biologically and geologically, but it is not clear what the source of the methane spike on Mars.

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Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this story.

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