Last month, NASA's Perseverance Rover had successfully touched down on the Red Planet, starting its two-year-long mission. The first objective of the rover is to explore the Jezero Crater on Mars.
The Jezero Crater is where the rover had landed, and it is set to roam around it to find evidence of life on the planet.
Although the whole prospect sounds complicated and nearly impossible, the mission will most likely consist of the Perseverance Rover taking samples of soil and rocks from the water-carried sediments from billions of years ago.
Perseverance Rover's update on Mars
Scientists back at the space agency are still not sure where the rover should start. According to New York Times, the rover took some pictures of the Red Planet and sent them back to NASA and the US Geological Survey or USGS to help them create a map.
The pictures that the rover sent back showed a visible path that NASA eventually chose for the Perseverance Rover to take. Several areas on the planet had been captured, including a cliff at the center of Jezero Crater. The rover is to go along its surface, up towards shoreline deposits, and then over the rim of the crater.
The Jezero Crater was chosen as a landing site for this mission because this area used to be filled with water years ago. It was chosen as the most promising candidate for finding any evidence of life out of the 60 locations because it has a lot of features that experts believe are ancient, habitable environments.
The Perseverance Rover is set to make a stop a the Gale Crater, the landing site of the Curiosity Rover back in 2012, as scientists also believed the areas' features formed in the presence of water back then may have clues as to the past life in Mars.
Perseverance Rover's path
The base of the cliffs of the Jezero Crater marks the outer edge of the area where the sediments were deposited by a long-lost river that was flowing into the crater, according to The Washington Post.
The ground control is hoping that the rocks and the sediments in the long-lost river have fossilized bacteria. The crater's rim is the former boundary of a lake and may still have evidence of how the water levels fluctuated on the Red Planet.
Perseverance Rover is set to examine the water levels to know when the crater first became a lake and how the water dried up, and it stopped flowing.
Although it looked very small on a video, the path that NASA chose for the rover is a few dozen kilometers long. This path is long enough that it will take all of the rover's main mission to traverse it all and stop at all points of interest.
According to NASA, Perseverance Rover is likely going to spend years exploring the Red Planet, a different mission will retrieve the samples and send them to Earth.
The rocks from the Moon helped the public understand how it was formed. The samples from Mars would help the public understand how the Red Planet was formed too.
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Written by Sieeka Khan