Ancient Cracked Mud Found on Mars

A panorama image taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows a rock target nicknamed “Pontours” where researchers identified preserved, ancient mud cracks hypothesized to have shaped throughout lengthy cycles of wet and dry environments over many years. These cycles are hypothesized to support conditions where life could form. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/IRAP)

A recent study published in Nature examines how mud cracks observed on Mars by NASA’s Curiosity rover could provide insight into how life on the Red Planet could have formed in its ancient past. On Earth, mud cracks have traditionally been linked to cycles of wet and dry environments that assisted in developing the complex processes responsible for microbial life to take hold. This study was conducted by an international team of researchers and holds the potential to help scientists better understand the geological and chemical processes that might have existed in Mars’ ancient past, up to billions of years ago.

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Perseverance Has Collected Samples from One of the Best Places to Search for Ancient Life on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover puts its robotic arm to work around a rocky outcrop called “Skinner Ridge” in Mars’ Jezero Crater. Perseverance gathered an important sample of sedimentary rock here. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS

Scientists with NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover said today that the rover has collected several “tantalizing” organic rock samples from an ancient river delta on the Red Planet. These samples have now been stowed for a planned future mission that hopes to retrieve the specimens and bring them back to Earth for the first-ever sample return from Mars.

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