Finding signs that life was on Mars could soon have been easier.
This is what scientists who control the mission of NASA without a crew, which in 2021 must achieve a red planet with a specific goal in order to find evidence of past life.
A four-wheeled vehicle that travels along Mars will find traces of rocks that can be around 3.9 billion years old.
The confirmation that life on Earth at such a remote time was very difficult, however researchers believe that evidence can be better preserved on Mars.
This is due to the dynamic processes that exist on our planet, which constantly shake and recycle stones that can erase the traces of life, but stopped on the red planet at an early stage in their history.
"We do not believe, for example, that Mars had tectonic plates that the Earth has for the most part of its history," says Ken Williford of NASA's California Power Plant Laboratory (JPL). acronyms in English).
"Most of the records of the Earth's rocks destroyed subduction under the oceanic crust, but even The rock that remained on the surface was heated and crushed in a way that should not have happened on Mars. So, paradoxically, it is likely that the oldest rocks on Mars are better preserved than young rocks on Earth, "said BBC News.
Traces of water and life
The research vehicle will do its work in the vicinity of the Crater Lake, which is indicated by satellite observation when a deep lake was once inhabited.
Scientists hope that if the microbes live in or around this water body, sediments will retain traces that can now be easily perforated.
The key objective will be carbonate landfills, which seem to be in line with what would be the old lake shore.
"Carbonates are a kind of mineral that pours out of water and what's really great about this is it when they catch them all in the water. Then, life can be trapped inside the ore, "explained Briony Horgan of Purdue University in Indiana.
An ideal scenario would be that the vehicle encounters formations that look like stromatolites. These are dome structures of carbonate, which were built on earth by microbial carpets.
The vehicle will be chosen among the most enticing sites along the alleged coastal strip and drilling patterns that can be packed in a container and left on the ground that need to be collected later.
NASA and its European colleague, ESA, are planning a joint project to recover up to 40 vehicle samples, probably at the beginning of the 20th century.