On the floor of a shallow crater on Mars, the NASA rover Perseverance has hit what scientists are hoping is pay dirt. Martian rocks excavated by the rover show signs of a watery past and are loaded with the kind of organic molecules that are the foundation for life as we know it.
Scientists collaborating on the mission also say the rock samples, which the rover has cached in tubes for a future return to Earth, have the right chemical recipe to preserve evidence of ancient Martian life, if it ever existed.
The new Perseverance research is detailed in three extensive studies published Wednesday, one in the journal Science and two in the journal Science Advances. The journal reports are highly technical and devoid of hype — daring to be dull as dirt — but the scientists involved translate them into a more exciting tale.