Circles on Mars, Perseverance plan starts to look for alien tracks

The circles aim to test whether life ever existed in the area. The rover has spent the last nine months drilling into the Red Planet's rock.

Nasa's Perseverance rover has been scouring Mars for nine months now, drilling into its rocks and depositing what it finds in the "storage" it always carries with it. Now it is making an extra effort to see if life has ever existed on the Red Planet and find more details about its past. To do so, he's moving around creating circles in the area identified as a place to find evidence of ancient life.

What Perseverance is doing on Mars

Recently, Perseverance examined rocks in Jezero Crater, a place scientists believe may have anciently experienced violent flash floods. Since it is believed that life on the Red Planet may have existed at a time when Mars was covered by water, this crater could be a good place for the rover to find evidence of past life forms. Jezero was chosen from about 60 other potential landing sites for Perseverance after five years of decision-making and research. Scientists think that at some point, the rivers and floods that flowed into Jezero crater may have actually poured clay material into the area, which is a substance made only from water.

How Perseverance is moving

At this time, Perseverance is examining the land southeast of the point where it first landed in the crater, in an area called the South Séítah region. This land, covered in dunes and ridges, is not easy territory for the rover to traverse, so it is occasionally aided by the Ingenuity helicopter to choose the best route.

Perseverance will then head to the western edge of the crater, where, according to Nasa, an ancient river delta likely flowed into a lake in the crater. Scientists think this movement of the rover is the best way to track down signs of potential microbial life, precisely because microbes exist in a similar environment on Earth. Meanwhile, the rocks so far collected by Perseverance are expected to return to Earth around 2030, at which time scientists will be able to take a closer look at their composition for more information about what they may be hiding. In the meantime, the rover will continue to drill into the area, creating neat circles to continue collecting rock samples.

Recently, the U.S. space agency has also found unknown organic molecules on Mars and a long, powerful earthquake has also been recorded on the Red Planet.

Stefania Bernardini