Space & Astronomy
Finding life on Mars may be impossible with today's rovers
By T.K. Randall
February 26, 2023 · 2 comments
Curiosity and Perseverance may not be up to the task. Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
New research has called into question whether today's Mars rovers are capable of finding signs of long-dead microbial life.
The discovery that there was once life on the Red Planet - most likely during a time in the distant past when Mars was covered in rivers and oceans - would be one of the most important scientific discoveries in the history of human civilization.
Actually finding such evidence using today's rovers, however, may not be plausible.
In a new study, scientists conducted a series of tests in Chile's Atacama Desert that involved using the same instruments currently aboard NASA's two Mars rovers to see if they could pick up signs of microbial life in sedimentary rocks known to contain such evidence.
The findings indicated that the instruments simply weren't capable of detecting them.
Ultimately, it seems, the only way we are going to be able to conclusively confirm the existence of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet with today's technology is to send samples from Mars back to Earth so that they can be analyzed in a fully equipped laboratory.
"You need to decide whether it's more advantageous having limited capability for analysis on the surface of Mars to interrogate a wide variety of samples or having limited samples to be analyzed with the wide variety of state-of-the-art instrumentation on Earth," said study co-lead Alberto G. Fairen.
Source: Live Science
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