Rock & Gem

Updates from Sister Planet Mars


Recently, Mars has loomed large. Here’s a recap of just a few articles appearing in scienti c journals…

e NASA InSight Mars lander has recorded the biggest tremor ever observed on another planet: a magnitude 5 “marsquake.” While somewhat mild by Earth standards, this is a big deal among those who study Mars: the biggest quake among the 1,313 detected since 2018. Sadly, this comes as dust settles on the InSight solar panels, which will bring its mission to an end.

While InSight may be winding down, NASA’s Perseveran­ce rover continues to roam and make new discoverie­s. In the latest news, it has reached an ancient Martian river delta in the Jezero Crater. How ancient? Try billions of years! e mission involves drilling samples for a future return mission that will launch in 2028 toward a return to Earth by 2033. Scientists hope the samples (in pencil-sized tubes) may provide chemical clues about life on our sister planet.

But hold on! Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could derail plans for the return mission, which involves both NASA and the European Space Agency. A planned Russian-European ExoMars rover has been suspended. is could delay the mission to 2030 or beyond, if ever. Meanwhile, China continues e›orts to understand our neighborin­g planet. e Zhurong rover is exploring sedimentar­y rocks that indicate a warmer, waterrich world billions of years ago at the so-called Utopia Planitia plains, where scientists believe an ancient ocean once existed.

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