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NASA to Look For Ancient Microbial Life on Mars in 2020 Mission

The 2020 Mars mission will see the rover be able to investigate these carbonates and collect and store rocky samples in metal tubes, which can be later studied on Earth.

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Updated:November 15, 2019, 6:57 PM IST
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NASA to Look For Ancient Microbial Life on Mars in 2020 Mission
Image for representation purpose only.

Jezero crater on Mars could soon present to scientists signs of ancient microbial life. NASA which plans to lands its rover on Mars could allow scientists to investigate that claim in the Mars 2020 mission.

According to a report in Fox 43, the Mars 2020 mission will focus on astrobiology, to which end, NASA is deploying a new series of scientific instruments on the rover.

It will help investigate claims by the Curiosity’s discoveries, which hinted that life, did thrive on the Red Planet at a point of time.

According to the report, the mission will gather samples of rock in metal tubes, which will then be studied further on Earth.

Two studies have now claimed that the Jezero crater may have signs of ancient life, the study further said.

According to the lead author of the study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, Jesse Tarnas, "Using a technique we developed that helps us find rare, hard-to-detect mineral phases in data taken from orbiting spacecraft, we found two outcrops of hydrated silica within Jezero crater."

She further added that it is known that the mineral phase is known for preserving microfossils and other biosignatures and thus makes them good fodder for study.

The study says the ancient delta in interesting because the presence of hydrated silicates in it makes it likely that the rover could find signs of ancient life on Mars.

In another study published in Icarus, cited by Fox 43, researchers discovered the signature of carbonate minerals in the crater’s inner rim.

According to the study, this intrigues scientists because the carbonates could contain information on how Mars transformed from a habitable to an arid planet.

The 2020 Mars mission will see the rover be able to investigate these carbonates and collect and store rocky samples in metal tubes, which can be later studied on Earth, the report revealed.

Speaking about the same, the lead author of the second study, Briony Horgan said that that CRISM had spotted carbonates in the location years back, but it is only recently that they have noticed how close-knit they are.

Carbonates formed from the interaction between carbon dioxide and water act as time capsules that scientists say could help them find out when Mars started drying out, the report revealed.

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