The NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is currently exploring Jezero crater, a Noachian locality that once hosted a delta–lake system with high habitability and biosignature preservation potential. Perseverance conducts detailed appraisals of rock targets using a synergistic payload capable of geological characterisation from kilometre to micron scales. The highest-resolution textural and chemical information will be provided by correlated WATSON (imaging), SHERLOC (deep-UV Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy) and PIXL (X-ray lithochemistry) analyses, enabling the distributions of organic and mineral phases within rock targets to be comprehensively established. Herein, we analyse Palaeoarchaean microbial mats from the ~3.42 Ga Buck Reef Chert (Barberton greenstone belt) – considered astrobiological analogues for a putative Martian biosphere – following a WATSON–SHERLOC–PIXL protocol identical to that conducted by Perseverance on Mars during each sampling activities. Correlating deep-UV Raman and fluorescence spectroscopic mapping with X-ray elemental mapping, we show that the Perseverance payload has the capability to detect thermally and texturally mature organic materials of biogenic origin and can highlight organic–mineral interrelationships and elemental co-location at fine spatial scales. We also show that the Perseverance protocol obtains very similar results to high-performance laboratory imaging, Raman spectroscopy and µXRF instruments. This is encouraging for the prospect of detecting micro-scale organic-bearing textural biosignatures on Mars using the correlative micro-analytical approach enabled by WATSON, SHERLOC and PIXL; indeed, laminated, organic-bearing samples such as those studied herein are considered plausible biosignatures for a potential Noachian–Hesperian biosphere and would make compelling targets for sampling during the mission.

In situ identification of Palaeoarchaean biosignatures using co-located Perseverance rover analyses: perspectives for in situ Mars science and sample return

Hickman-Lewis K.
;
Cavalazzi B.
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
;
2022

Abstract

The NASA Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is currently exploring Jezero crater, a Noachian locality that once hosted a delta–lake system with high habitability and biosignature preservation potential. Perseverance conducts detailed appraisals of rock targets using a synergistic payload capable of geological characterisation from kilometre to micron scales. The highest-resolution textural and chemical information will be provided by correlated WATSON (imaging), SHERLOC (deep-UV Raman and fluorescence spectroscopy) and PIXL (X-ray lithochemistry) analyses, enabling the distributions of organic and mineral phases within rock targets to be comprehensively established. Herein, we analyse Palaeoarchaean microbial mats from the ~3.42 Ga Buck Reef Chert (Barberton greenstone belt) – considered astrobiological analogues for a putative Martian biosphere – following a WATSON–SHERLOC–PIXL protocol identical to that conducted by Perseverance on Mars during each sampling activities. Correlating deep-UV Raman and fluorescence spectroscopic mapping with X-ray elemental mapping, we show that the Perseverance payload has the capability to detect thermally and texturally mature organic materials of biogenic origin and can highlight organic–mineral interrelationships and elemental co-location at fine spatial scales. We also show that the Perseverance protocol obtains very similar results to high-performance laboratory imaging, Raman spectroscopy and µXRF instruments. This is encouraging for the prospect of detecting micro-scale organic-bearing textural biosignatures on Mars using the correlative micro-analytical approach enabled by WATSON, SHERLOC and PIXL; indeed, laminated, organic-bearing samples such as those studied herein are considered plausible biosignatures for a potential Noachian–Hesperian biosphere and would make compelling targets for sampling during the mission.
2022
Hickman-Lewis K., Moore K.R., Razzell Hollis J.J., Tuite M.L. , Beegle L.W., Bhartia R., Grotzinger J.P. , Brown A.J. , Shkolyar S., Cavalazzi B., Smith C.L.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/888389
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