NASA’s Perseverance robot is scheduled to leave the launch pad on July 30, carrying a special stone flying to the red planet.
A piece of AFTER 008, a meteorite was found in Oman in 1999. Photo: BBC.
Sayh al Uhaymir 008 (AFTER 008), a meteorite fragment kept by the London Natural History Museum, will be used as a standard for evaluating a Perseverance device, making the robot’s findings more accurate. Guardian reported on July 26. “When you start the devices and calibrate them before use, you calibrate against the type of material you intend to study,” said Professor Caroline Smith at London’s Natural History Museum.
Scientists believe that the stone that Perseverance is about to carry originated from Mars. “The tiny bubbles of gas inside the meteorite have the exact composition of the Martian atmosphere. So we know it’s from the red planet,” added Smith.
An asteroid or comet may have crashed into Mars some 600,000-700,000 years ago, sending rock debris into space. One of these rocks wandered through the solar system, eventually crashing down to Earth. Scientists discovered it in Oman in 1999, named it SAU 008 and moved to the London Museum of Natural History.
Robot Perseverance will search for traces of life on Mars. Photo: NASA.
The Sherloc device on the Perseverance robot is responsible for decoding the chemical composition of Mars soil and determining if they contain organic matter. This is a sign that life was or exists on Mars. AFTER 008 will contribute to ensuring this process is done with the highest accuracy.
“We specially chose AFTER 008 to send it because it was chemically suitable and also extremely durable. Some of the other Martian meteorite fragments we have are fragile,” explains Smith. .
After selecting the most potential rock samples possible, Perseverance would put them in tiny tubes and leave them on the Martian surface. Other robots in the future will come to collect them and bring them back to Earth for analysis.
(According to Guardian)