Fine-grained rocks at Hogwallow Flats

Fri, 24 Jun 2022 06:12:01 GMT
Space Daily

Pasadena CA (JPL) Jun 24, 2022 Perseverance's exploration of the Hawksbill Gap area of the Jezero...

The crumbly rocks at Devils Tanyard were broken and moved by the force of the abrasion.

The rover then made its way up the delta to abrade at Hogwallow Flats, an area nicknamed "The Bacon Strip" by the team due to its light-colored striped rocks, which look like a strip of bacon in images taken by the Hi-Rise orbiter.

The rocks at Hogwallow Flats appear to be very fine-grained, which is exciting to scientists on the mission as fine-grained rocks may have the best chance at preserving evidence of life.

Molecules made up of mostly carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are called organic molecules and are the primary building blocks of life on Earth.

Some small organic molecules can be produced without the presence of life, so the presence of organic molecules in a rock does not automatically mean that life was present.

The detection of particularly large and complex organic molecules, or specific patterns of organic molecules, could be considered a biosignature.

Large and complex molecules break down into smaller ones over time due to radiation from the sun and reactions with the rocks and atmosphere.

In order to have a chance of detecting evidence of life in the samples that Perseverance will ultimately send back, we need to sample rocks that have the best chance of preserving complex organic molecules - fine-grained rocks.

This is because fine-grained rocks are more likely to contain large amounts of clay minerals than rocks with lots of sand, pebbles, and gravel.

We will continue to keep an eye out for more fine-grained rocks as we continue on from Hogwallow!