Mars Perseverance has discovered rocks on the Red Planet that looks like Hawaiian beaches. Greenish rocks were spotted in Jezero, a 45 km wide crater believed to be an ancient lake. Hundreds of researchers have analyzed the data collected by Perseverance, and now they are suggesting that the Red Planet may not be as red as we previously thought.
Mars is called the red planet because most of its rocks are red in color. Rocks contain iron, which rusts and turns reddish in color, just like any iron object on Earth if it rusts and is left outside for a long time. Surprisingly, a significant portion of the rocks found in the Jezero crater is different from other rocks found on the surface of Mars.
Perseverance confirmed the presence of volcanic rocks composed of large olivine grains in the crater. Many beaches on Earth have a greenish color due to the presence of olivine, a mineral that is abundant in the Earth’s mantle and is involved in the formation of gemstones. Why is this important? The presence of olivine-rich rocks on Mars could provide answers to questions such as whether life once existed on Mars.
Green Cliffs have a lot to offer
Researchers believe that the volcanic rocks found on the Red Planet were formed about four billion years ago. Interestingly, certain rocks have properties similar to those of the igneous rocks that existed on Earth in their earliest days. To study the planet’s ancient environment, scientists need rock samples from the time the planet formed.
“One of the reasons we don’t have a good understanding of where and when life began on Earth is that these rocks are mostly gone. So it’s hard to reconstruct what the ancient environment was like on Earth,” said Dr. Briony Horgan, of Purdue University. Co-author and Associate Professor in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences
Mars is believed to be 4.6 billion years old, and in the form of olivine-rich igneous rocks, Perseverance has pinpointed the location of ancient lava samples needed to study the planet’s ancient environment.
However, the mineral was considered only in limited quantities. Until now, researchers were not sure about the presence of olivine in Jezero Crater.
There is a strong possibility that by examining the rover’s data and comparing it to rocks on Earth, scientists will finally find out if life ever existed on the Red Planet. Moreover, since ancient volcanic rocks are as old as our solar system, they can also shed light on the origin of life on Earth and how we should continue to look for signs of life on other planets.