NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, which is set to launch in July 2020, is equipped with new scientific instruments to be able to test for signs of microbial life on the red planet.
A new study has hypothesize where it is likely that this rover will find microbial fossils, the Jezero Crater. According to NASA, the paper identified distinct deposits of carbonates along the inner rim of Jezero. Jezero was a lake more than 3.5 billion years ago.
The paper hopes that, like on Earth, carbonates help form structures that are hardy enough to survive in fossil form. They hope that Mars 2020 will be able to find microbial fossils possibly found along the ancient shoreline.
“The possibility that the ‘marginal carbonates’ formed in the lake environment was one of the most exciting features that led us to our Jezero landing site. Carbonate chemistry on an ancient lakeshore is a fantastic recipe for preserving records of ancient life and climate,” said Mars 2020 Deputy Project Scientist Ken Williford of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “We’re eager to get to the surface and discover how these carbonates formed.”
Alongside preserving signs of life, carbonates can also teach scientists about how Mars transitioned from having liquid water and a thicker atmosphere to this freezing desert.
The Mars 2020 programme is designed to retrieve information to prepare for human exploration.