After uncovering a 'tantalizing' piece of circular sandstone, the excited NASA team tweeted: "Could it hold clues about ancient life?"
The Mars rover has found some rocks on the planet, in an areas known as the Yori Pass, that have perked up the expectations of scientists back on Earth.
"The feature is so tantalizing to the scientists because it is sandstone, which is composed of fine grains that have been carried from elsewhere by water before settling and forming stone," NASA said in a statement. The crater's history of water is a big reason NASA chose it as a place to look for signs of past life.
The rover used an abrasion tool to clean off a bit of the rock and look beneath the dusty surface. It uncovered veins of lighter material within the beige surroundings. "Could it hold clues about ancient life?" the Perseverance team tweeted.
NASA hopes Perseverance will uncover biosignatures - which the agency defines as "any characteristic, element, molecule, substance, or feature that can serve as evidence for ancient life" - in the Yori Pass rock. The rover had previously found organic molecules in an earlier rock sample, but it's too soon to say if it's evidence of microbial life from the planet's past.
Scientists will need to get their hands on the rocks to truly understand what's going on with them. That's where NASA's ambitious Mars Sample Return mission comes in. The space agency is planning to fetch the samples and bring them back to Earth for study. A sample of the sandstone from Yori Pass would be a much-sought-after prize. But we're all going to have to wait a while...
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