On February 18, 2021, a historic landing occurred on our neighboring red planet. Norway had more than one finger in the match.
UiO Professor Svein-Erik Hamran of Fauske led the work with Georadar “Rimfax”.
They have now reached the area where they think they are most likely to find signs of life.
“The delta at Jezero crater appears to be one of the best places on Mars to look for evidence of past microscopic life,” said NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen.
The answers are there, and Team Perseverance is ready to find them.
Searching for traces of life in the lake
A persistent Mars robot will search for traces of prehistoric life in the 45-kilometre-wide Jezero crater on the surface of Mars.
Once, between three and four billion years ago, there was a lake in this hole.
On the way to the crater there was a river delta.
Rover has arrived there now.
– Why did you drive here?
We believe there is a greater chance of finding organic matter, and possible signs of life there.
That’s what researcher Sven Eric Hamran of UIO at Kjeller says.
The rover is looking for sediment. He brings with him the organic matter that has been cleaned up in the lake that is now a crater.
– What we are looking for now is to find the remains of the first sediment in the lake at the bottom of the hole, says Hamran.
Sven Eric Hamran co-developed the Georadar which is part of the equipment in the rover. There is a georadar called “Rimfax”.
It has been used to analyze the ground in and under the crater, thus determining where it is most likely to find life.
Successful helicopter flight
But it is not only the geographical area that has Norwegian origins.
Håvard Fjær Grip of Trøndelag leads the flyby of a small unmanned helicopter aboard a NASA robotic vehicle.
He works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Los Angeles.
– You will take a picture and make a map of the area where the next robot will land. Hamran explains that it is the robot that will return the rock samples to Earth.
As early as September last year, NASA confirmed that a Mars robot had successfully collected the first rock sample, which would later be flown back to Earth.
The samples will be captured on the surface of Mars and transported back to Earth on subsequent expeditions. The first one actually had a start date of 2026, but it has now been pushed back to 2028.
The probe characterizes the planet’s geology and past climate and paves the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.
Norwegian space research asserts itself internationally
Arvid Bertheau Johannesen, Head of Manned Spaceflight and Exploration at the Norwegian Space Center, monitors all of Norway’s activities towards the European Space Agency (ESA).
– We are very proud that this rover has a Norwegian Georadar on board. It was built in Norway, and seems to be doing very important work, Johansen says.
This project is a project against NASA, but the preparations to build a georadar are backed by funding from the Norwegian Space Center with funding from ESA.
This type of activity is of an international nature. It is important internationally and well to have a reputable Norwegian team in the team.
He believes that Norwegian researchers are also important to Norwegian research communities, and that we assert ourselves internationally.
– May open to participate in more missions to the Moon and March in the future.
Chance of life in sediment
But if there is life on Mars, scientists won’t know until the rock samples taken by the rover are sent back to Earth in 2031.
– However, we can get an indication that there is life there. There is a possibility of life in the sediments that we have already seen.
The rover has a long-term business contract. For a full ten years, he will travel around Mars. Now they will drive for another year – then the rover will be at the top of the river delta.
– There is a lot of excitement. Every time we change the area we see new things. Every day there are new pictures, it’s exciting all the time.
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