Home Science NASA Mars Rover: Perseverance spotted in Jezero Crater by ESA's ExoMars orbiter

NASA Mars Rover: Perseverance spotted in Jezero Crater by ESA's ExoMars orbiter

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NASA put its most advanced rover on Mars little more than a week ago on February 18, making headlines across the globe. The machine is without a doubt the US space agency’s best bet at finding signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.

However, before Perseverance has even begun its main mission, it is already in the spotlight.

The European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter – which has been analysing the atmosphere of Mars since 2016 – has spotted the rover in the Jezero Crater.

An image released from the ESA has shown Perseverance Rover, as well as the equipment shredded in its descent, from the ExoMars’ perspective, 400 kilometres above the Martian surface.

Spread across a region of roughly five kilometres, the Perseverance Rover can be seen, as well as the parachute which helped it descend.

Another item in the image is the heat shield, which protected the probe from burning as it entered the Martian atmosphere.

The ESA said in a statement that not only did they photograph the rover, but also helped it communicate with ground control on Earth.

The ESA said: “The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter provided significant data relay services around the landing of Perseverance, including supporting the return of the videos and imagery taken by the mission’s onboard cameras during the descent of the rover to the surface of Mars.

“The orbiter will continue to provide data relay support between Earth and Mars for NASA’s surface missions, and for the next ExoMars mission, which will see the European Rosalind Franklin rover and Russian Kazachok surface platform arrive at the Red Planet in 2023.

READ MORE: NASA Mars mission: Perseverance to begin search for life on Red Planet

“At the same time, the Trace Gas Orbiter continues its own science mission, focusing on analysing the planet’s atmosphere with a special emphasis on searching for gases that may be linked to active geological or biological processes.”

Experts believe the Jezero Crater was once flooded with water – and if Earth is anything to go by, where there is water there is life.

NASA said the area has been flooded, and dried out, on several occasions over Mars’ history, with water being there for billions of years.

However, as the Martian climate warmed, the water dried out, and the area, which is 49 kilometres wide, now matches the rest of Mars’ dusty surface.

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Nonetheless, scientists hope there will be traces of extinct life – likely in microbial form – which could prove that genesis is not isolated to Earth alone.

The ESA and other orbiters have already discovered limestones, volcanic minerals and other minerals such as iron oxide have also been discovered.

The ESA said: “These minerals indicate that the environmental conditions in Jezero Crater became drier and less conducive to life at a later stage.

“However, even among these minerals there are some in which biosignatures can be very well preserved.

“Studying rocks and minerals with a wide origin – whether formed by volcanic activity, by water, or modified in giant impact events – will provide important insights into the history of Mars.”



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