NASA’s Perseverance rover is currently on its 40 million mile journey through space, and is expected to land on Mars by February, 2021. Once it does, the robotic explorer will hunt for clues of ancient microbial life on the Martian landscape.
In order to scan the rocks on Mars for the tiniest hints of life that existed billions of years ago, Perseverance will use a precision X-ray device powered by artificial intelligence dubbed as PIXL.
The rover will collect at least 20 samples from Mars using a handy drill, literally attached to the robot’s arm. The rock samples will be stored away in tubes in a well-identified place on the Martian surface, and left there to be returned to Earth by a future sample return mission to the Red Planet.
But first, Perseverance will use PIXL to scan the rocks using the powerful X-ray beam in order to see where and how much the chemicals are distributed across the rocks’ surface.