The US space agency NASA said that its new Mars rover will search for fossils on the Red Planet. It will use x-rays to look for signs of past life. The agency launched the mission on July 30 this year. The program includes the Perseverance rover. Besides, it also includes an Ingenuity helicopter drone. It is scheduled to land on Mars in February next year. It will touch down in Jezero crater. NASA said that the Perseverance rover will look for ancient traces of microscopic life on the planet. It is packed with PIXL. PIXL is an X-ray spectrometer. The instrument is powered by artificial intelligence.
NASA said that PIXL is a lunchbox-size instrument. It can identify chemical elements even at a tiny scale. It has a camera that can take super close-up images of soil and rock textures of Mars. NASA said that PIXL is located on the rover’s robotic arm. The Perseverance is a car-sized rover. The rover is equipped with scientific instruments to explore the Jezero crater. According to NASA, the Jezero crater was possibly home to an ancient lake. Scientists believe that it the right place to detect the deposits of hydrated silica. Hydrated silica is a mineral. It is good at preserving biosignatures.
The rover is fitted with a coring drill at the end of its arm. NASA said that samples will be collected and stashed in metal tubes. The samples will be brought to Earth by a future mission. NASA said that every mission included an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. But the PIXL functioning is different from its predecessors. The agency said PIXL can scan rock using a powerful X-ray beam to discover chemicals. Mars 2020 is the third space mission towards the Red Planet this year. The two missions were launched by the UAE which includes Hope orbiter and China which includes an orbiter, lander, and rover. All three are slated to arrive at Mars in February next year.