NASA’s Perseverance rover has been wandering around Mars since it reached the planet on February 18th, 2021. Here at The Optimist Daily, we have tried to keep our readers up to date with the latest exciting mission information collected by this mighty machine. From its landing, first rock sample collection, and the discovery of lava flow. Luckily, the best is yet to come, with the robot promising to uncover much more information about the red giant.
What are organic molecules?
The latest news from Perseverance is its findings of organic molecules in the Jezero Crater. These are substances made up of covalently bonded carbon and hydrogen atoms and are what living organisms on Earth are composed of. Although, there are plenty of ways to produce these structures and this finding doesn’t necessarily mean that these come from living organisms.
How did Perseverance detect them?
The rover utilized a piece of equipment called Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC) to discover the organic molecules. This instrument uses visible light from the Sun to shine through objects and track how it is scattered to determine composition.
The history of the molecules
“What SHERLOC adds to the story is its capability to map the spatial distribution of organics inside rocks and relate those organics to minerals found there. This helps us understand the environment in which the organics formed,” stated Luther Beegle, the SHERLOC lead investigator.
He continued: “More analysis needs to be done to determine the method of production for the identified organics.” When the mission on Mars is over and the sample returns to us earthlings, this further investigation will be carried out. The exact date this will occur is currently unclear, with NASA predicting the retrieval launch to take place in 2028 at the earliest.