So looking for life on Mars is the main mission objective right?
Yes that’s right!
But they are mainly looking for signs of life that might have existed on the red planet billions of years ago.
So what are the signs of life the rover will be looking for?
It’s looking for biomarkers, these are signs of life.
Biomarkers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are patterns in the terrain of a planet, others could be a gas or a particular mineral.
The biomarkers that Rosalind will be seeking are molecules with the right structure, and the sort of shape and size that we know is found in living things.
Okay, so we know how the rover can collect samples but how will it test them for Biomarkers?
MOMA stands for the Mars Organic Molecule Analyser.
MOMA is basically a whole lab of chemistry equipment on-board the rover that can test the samples that’s the size of a toaster!
It will separate all the molecules in a sample and test them using mass spectrometry.
But what kind of molecules will they be looking for?
Elements needed for life that include carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and a bunch of others.
The shape is also really important too.
Each type of molecule can come in two opposite versions. Like being left-handed or right-handed. In general, you’d expect to see a mix of both, but living things tend to have more of one kind so they can fit easily with others to create organic matter.
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