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New Mars rover, with LANL components, to search for life

Its primary and unique purpose is to collect samples that a future spacecraft can return to Earth
July 19, 2020
An artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars rover exploring the red planet. It is set for launch this summer.

An artist’s concept depicts NASA’s Mars rover exploring the red planet. It is set for launch this summer.CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech

New Mars rover, with LANL components, to search for life

by Roger Wiens

Mars has always been a source of mystery, exciting the imaginations of sci-fi writers, filmmakers and the public. Recent scientific discoveries have simultaneously satisfied and stoked the flames of our curiosity about our nearest planetary neighbor.

A decade of research enabled by NASA’s aptly named Curiosity rover has revealed that lakes, rivers, streams and likely oceans appearing over eons are part of the geologic history of Mars. While its epoch of active bodies of water ended over 3 billion years ago, we know that Mars used to be habitable. So far, no clear evidence of life has been found there, not even a virus. But if Mars was once habitable, wouldn’t it have harbored life?

NASA is now poised to take the next step to answer this question with the upcoming launch of the Perseverance rover.

This story first appeared in Santa Fe New Mexican.