Tanja Bosak interview: How Perseverance will hunt for life on Mars

Tanja Bosak is looking for traces of life in a rock reconnaissance mission. It is an superior duty, as solely the samples she and her crew choose will probably be returned to Earth


7 April 2021

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Rocio Montoya

PERSEVERANCE is the fifth rover that people have landed on Mars. Its mission is probably the most thrilling but. Whereas earlier rovers have centered on exploring the ’s geology and potential habitability, NASA’s newest robotic explorer is actively in search of indicators of historic life. It was an epic second when Perseverance was lowered to the floor from a hovering sky crane in February.

No marvel the scientists behind it have been jubilant. A type of celebrating was geobiologist Tanja Bosak on the Massachusetts Institute of . She has lengthy studied the proof of Earth’s earliest life in our geological file. Now she is that experience to bear on Mars.

This time, Perseverance is doing the sector work for her. The rover is starting to discover Jezero crater, which was as soon as a Martian lake fed by rivers. It’s a implausible place to hunt for traces of life, with simply the suitable sorts of for preserving fossils, says Bosak.

One of the crucial fascinating features of Perseverance’s work is selecting a collection of rocks which may comprise traces of historic life and making ready them for a return journey to Earth. The rover carries 43 pristine pattern tubes, every of which will probably be crammed and cached underneath its stomach, then left for a subsequent mission to gather and launch again into orbit round Mars. The plan is for these to be picked up and returned to Earth as as 2031. It’s Bosak and her colleagues who’ve the duty of deciding which rocks make the lower. …

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