WASHINGTON: NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, which is slated to touch down in Jezero Crater at around 3.55 p.m. EST on Thursday (2.25 a.m. Friday India time) is tasked with searching for telltale signs that microbial life may have lived on Mars billions of years ago.
It will collect rock core samples in metal tubes, and future missions would return these samples to Earth for deeper study, NASA said.
“To quote Carl Sagan,” said Gentry Lee, Chief Engineer for the Planetary Science Directorate at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and the discovery that life existed elsewhere in the universe would certainly be extraordinary,'” Lee said in a statement while quoting the American astronomer.
If those data are intriguing enough, the team could command the rover’s robotic arm to go in for a closer look. An enduring hope of the science team is to find a surface feature that couldn’t be attributed to anything other than ancient microbial life. One such feature could be something like a stromatolite, NASA said. (IANS)