First color photos of Mars since ‘Perseverance’ | Science

First color photos of Mars since ‘Perseverance’ |  Science

Mars really has color. Exploration vehicle team perseverance He posted the first images in various shades of the red planet taken from Jizero crater. The largest Mars exploration mission in history landed around 10:00 p.m. this Thursday (Spanish peninsula time) with the goal of finding traces of life on what was the bottom of a lake millions of years ago. This is NASA’s most ambitious mission to date. “I still can’t believe it; entering Mars at 20,000 kilometers per hour without damaging anything is surprising,” admits the mission’s flight director, Diana Trujillo.

perseverance It is alive on the surface of Mars. ”Thus it was announced that the spacecraft had landed in a hole in the northern hemisphere of the planet in the control room of the US Space Agency, to applause from the mission team. perseverance – The miracle of one-ton technology that the United States developed with other European countries, including Spain – is a six-wheeled cart equipped with seven scientific instruments. It is the heaviest, most complex and most expensive vehicle that NASA has sent to the surface of Mars: about 2.2 billion euros. According to the expedition manager, the device contains all the techniques needed to find traces of microbial life billions of years in the crater. It’s a special place because everything points to the flow of a river there. It is a crater with a diameter of approximately 45 kilometers. If you look at the photos, it looks like a fan, like a place where water and sediment were spreading, “Trujillo says.

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The objective of the mission is to search for signs of ancient microbial life, collect and bring samples of rock and regolith (fractured rocks and dust), describe the geology and climate of Mars, and pave the way for human exploration “on site”. The official mission will last a little less than two years, although it will likely last much longer. “What we will do in the first two weeks is do checks to make sure nothing in the robot is damaged. Once we verify that all the systems are working perfectly, we will start wandering around the crater and collecting samples to bring them to the ground, study them and determine if there is life,” he adds. Trujillo. “We think the best places to look for signs of life in Jezero would be the bottom of the lake or shores, where there could be carbonic minerals, which tend to preserve certain fossils well,” says Ken Willford, one of the important scientists, in a press release from NASA. “But we have to remember that we are looking for primitive microbes in an alien world,” says Willford.

The ship carries cameras that recorded arrival at the Red Planet as well as microphones that record the planet’s sound. It will take the scientific and technical team a little over a month to verify that all the systems are in perseverance Correctly operate before the start of the operations phase. On this occasion, NASA equipped its car with a fast-moving mode that allows it to cover a much greater distance in a short time. Among the countries that participated in the mission was Spain, since one of these seven tools perseverance It is MEDA, the advanced weather station that will study the Martian atmosphere and the dust that covers the surface.

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One of the main targets inside Jizero Crater will be the ancient delta that formed the river that emptied into the large lake. If all goes well, those in charge of the mission want to visit the area of ​​the crater through which the ancient river entered, and then move to the other area of ​​the crater through which the water flowed. It is the most interesting place where there are still organic particles or minerals that could prove the existence of life on Mars.

perseverance It will pave the way for a more ambitious future goal: to bring Earth and rocks from Mars for the first time. The car is equipped with a system for selecting the most interesting samples, sealing them in a metal container and leaving them on the roof. In the future, other missions will come to collect them. The reason is simple: no matter how advanced the tools on board this vehicle are, proving beyond a reasonable doubt that fossils or traces of life have been found is a task that can only be done on Earth.

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