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Mars soil is full of surprises, the first results show 

You know that we are looking for a new planet to live on, and there is a mission currently exploring the planet Mars. The first results from the Mars rover Perseverance surprised the scientists who analyzed them, NASA reports. The bottom of the red planet appears to be composed differently at the research site than expected.

Perseverance landed in Jezero Crater last February, and the site was chosen because water must once have flowed there. Here, seven different instruments are used to study the soil to discover how it was formed. It also searches for traces of life that may have existed millennia ago.

Because there was water in this area 3.5 billion years ago, the researchers suspected that the soil here would consist of sediment. This rock is formed by settling sand and mud carried along by the water. Instead, Perseverance struck lava rock.

Samples Retrieved

A different soil was found than expected, which has advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side, the lava rock is more accessible to date and can therefore describe how the soil formed in more detail. The disadvantage is that traces of possible life are less well preserved.

Perseverance has saved twelve crayon-sized soil samples for further research. These and about 30 others are planned to be brought back to Earth in 2033, so they can be studied even better here.

ground radar

Another Perseverance instrument had another surprise for the scientists: Using the rover’s ground radar, they discovered that the rock beneath the Martian surface here has a 15-degree slope. 

This rock formation may have been formed because lava solidified on the surface, but it is also possible that it is an even older riverbed under the evaporated crater lake. 

Perseverance can see about 15 meters below the ground with the ground radar. By measuring how a signal the rover sends back into the soil returns, scientists can analyze how the subsurface is composed.

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