Kathryn Stack: If we find biological signals in Mars, no doubt, will bring to the Earth


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Kathryn Stack is attached scientific mission, Mars 2020, and a researcher at the jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA. Expert in the study of the sediments martians and their changes over time, has followed in the footsteps of the Curiosity rover, and now will do the same with Perseverance. Expect great results.

Kathryn Stack – Twitter

—What is the difference to Perseverance of other rovers sent to Mars?

—Has a payload that makes it suitable to search for signs of ancient life on Mars. In particular, the instruments on his arm, PIXL and SHERLOC, are able to produce maps of texture, composition and distribution of organic molecules. For the first time, we will be able to recognize biofirmas ancient in the rocks of Mars. In addition, you can store samples, has wheels stronger and a processor computer updated which allows you to navigate more efficiently.

—why you chose the crater Jezero as a place of landing?

—Jezero hosted in the past an ancient lake with a high potential for the preservation of life, if ever existed on Mars. It is a unique place because it has one of the deltas best preserved of the planet. Contains minerals, carbonate and clay very interesting from the point of view astrobiológico.

—once there, how it will look for the rover signs of life?

—First, we will take pictures and composition data to determine the geologic context and the possible habitability of the rocks. These observations will be used to select more specific objectives. Then we will look for patterns, textures, and substances in the rocks whose origin may have involved ancient martian life.

—do you Believe that you will succeed?

—I Believe that the mission will make scientific discoveries that will advance significantly our understanding of the habitability of the planet, its potential for harboring ancient life and evolution of a world that is habitable to one uninhabitable.

—If they are signs of life, what will be the next step?

—Without a doubt, Perseverance will take samples so that they can be returned to the Earth for the following missions (Mars Sample Return). That is the most exciting. These samples could open the door to the next phase of Mars exploration, and revolutionizing our understanding of life in the Solar System and the Universe.

—And if you do not find biofirmas, should we throw in the towel?

—No. Although Perseverance is proper to observe possible signs of ancient life on Mars, it is very likely that we can not definitively determine if life was present or absent in the rocks of the crater Jezero to return samples to the Earth. The experience on our own planet has shown that sometimes it takes a full arsenal of analytical techniques to answer that question. And if there were no signs of ancient life in samples returned, this result would also be incredibly interesting, as they highlight how truly unlikely it could have been the development of life beyond Earth.

—what Mars 2020 will pave the way for the exploracón human space?

—Yes, several of the instruments in its payload, are contributing to this. MEDA, with monitors that characterize the atmosphere, will help to advance our understanding of the environmental conditions that will face future astronauts on the red planet. For its part, MOXIE is a demonstration of technology that takes CO2 from the martian atmosphere and converts it into oxygen. That capacity could be expanded in the future to produce oxygen for future human explorers on Mars needed to survive and fuel for the rockets that return to Earth.