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Searching for life on Mars from a Scottish island
01-06-2022, 07:47 AM
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Searching for life on Mars from a Scottish island
Searching for life on Mars from a Scottish island

[Obrázky: _124972036_exomars_rover_joins_kazachok_platform.jpg]

In a flat on the island of Cumbrae, off the west coast of Scotland, a geologist has turned his kitchen into a hub in the search for signs of life on Mars.

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Prof John Parnell learned to spot the signs of life in rocks while studying oil and gas exploration at the University of Aberdeen.

He is now using his skills to train scientists working on Europe's first Mars rover.

Those running the project will make decisions based on images sent back by the rover as it travels over the planet's surface.

But they need practice interpreting the pictures that will beamed back to them from millions of miles away.

Using a video link from his kitchen in Millport, the seaside town on the popular island, Prof Parnell guides the scientists on where to look for evidence of life as they take the rover's instruments on practice runs in field sites around Europe.

The European Space Agency's (Esa) Mars rover project had been due to launch on a Russian rocket in September and land eight months later but the war in Ukraine has made this "very unlikely".

Scientists still hope they can explore the red planet in 2023.

Prof John Parnell told BBC Scotland's The Nine: "The search for life on Mars will be through the eyes of a rover, trundling over the surface.

"What we need to do is develop the skill to look at those images and predict which samples are worth examining in more detail. Which samples might have evidence of either life, or habitats for life."

Scientists working on the ExoMars mission, the European Space Agency's first attempt to send a rover to Mars, will only have a few chances to sample rocks on the red planet.
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