Mars rover that left Earth two years ago… found traces of floods, organic matter and aurora : Dong-A Science

Citizens of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) watch the launch of the Mars probe ‘Amal’ (Hope) from the Muhammad bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) in Dubai. Provided by Dubai/Yonhap News

Starting with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on July 20, 2020, China launched on the 23rd and the United States on the 30th Mars rover respectively. This was because the distance between Mars and Earth was getting closer and this was the most efficient time to send a Mars probe.

The three probes flew for about six months to reach Mars, and then began their mission in February 2021. Since then, research results obtained by the Mars rover over a period of more than a year and six months have been published one after another the other.

● Evidence of two floods on ancient Mars

China’s Zhurong rover has sent back evidence that Mars may have been flooded in the past. The research team of the Institute of Geological Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences analyzed radar measurement data taken by Kowloon of the Utopia Plain of Mars and published it in the international scientific journal Nature on September 26 (local time).

Kowloon traveled more than 1,100 meters south of the Utopia Plains landing site and collected low-frequency radar data for about three months between May 25 and September 6 last year. High frequency radar is advantageous for observing the surface of the earth about 3 to 10 m, while low frequency radar can investigate up to 100 m underground, so it is mainly used to analyze the geological structure.

As a result of observations, we saw a pattern of sending a unique reflected signal in the region located at a depth of about 10-30 ma depth of 30-80 m. Chenling, a researcher at the Institute of Geological Geophysics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said, “The sedimentary faults in the two regions indicate the possibility that two major floods occurred on Mars around 3.5 billion years ago and 1.6 billion years ago. back.” However, no evidence of liquid water was found up to about 80m underground.

The Utopia Plain is one of the impact craters of Mars, and is an area where ancient seas are believed to have existed. This is the first observation of the Utopia plain in around 45 years since the launch of NASA’s Viking 2 spacecraft in 1975. The results of this study are a clue to the existence of water in the geological history of Mars, giving further strength to the theory that oceans existed on Mars in the past.

● Organic matter found on Mars… Can I get a clue of life?

NASA’s Mars rover ‘Persistence’ is the ‘honour student’ with the most research achievements to date. Most recently, on September 15 (local time), it was announced that a rock sample containing organic material had been collected from Mars. It attracts attention for the discovery of organic matter, which is part of life, in an ancient delta area where life is likely to have lived.

While exploring the ancient delta, Perseverance collected samples of sedimentary rock known as ‘Wildcat Ridge’ and analyzed it using ‘SHERLOC’, organic matter and mineral analysis equipment, and detected organic matter (aromatic hydrocarbons). In 2013, NASA’s Curiosity rover also found evidence of organic matter, but this is the first time that large amounts have been found in areas with sediment.

“The sand, mud and salt that made Wildcat Ridge accumulated long ago under conditions where life could have flourished,” said Ken Farley, NASA’s Persistence Project scientist. We need to do a detailed analysis,” he said. Organic samples collected by Perseverance will be brought to Earth in the early 2030s through the Mars sample recovery program jointly promoted by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

In addition, persistence is conducting various missions for future manned exploration of Mars, such as an experiment to make oxygen using carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere and a helicopter performance test.

● Discover the cause of atmospheric changes by revealing the microstructure of aurora

The aurora on Mars captured by the UAE Mars probe 'Amal'.  Provided by NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS / EMM

The aurora on Mars captured by the UAE Mars probe ‘Amal’. NAS is provided

The UAE’s ‘Amal’, the only orbiter among Mars orbiters to depart in 2020, is also gradually sending its probe results back to Earth. The aurora observations on Mars have been continuously observed since the release of pictures of the aurora observations on Mars in July last year. An Aurora is a phenomenon where high energy particles blasted from the sun are attracted by a magnetic field and collide with atoms or molecules in the atmosphere to emit light. Mars does not have a full magnetic field like Earth does, but some regions are magnetized with magnetic fields from millions of years ago.

The aurora on Mars could be a clue to the cause of the disappearance of the Martian atmosphere, which was once thick enough to support life. On August 31 this year, the results of a joint study with NASA that revealed the microstructure of the proton aurora on Mars were also published in the international scientific journal ‘Geophysical Research Letters’. Amal will continue to observe the aurora for the remainder of its mission.

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