Perseverance rover’s search for life on Mars: from the outback to the red planet

As NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars, UNSW is playing a key role in the search for life on the red planet. In July 2019, Professor Martin Van Kranendonk took a team of NASA and European Space Agency scientists to the Pilbara, in the Western Australian outback. The Pilbara is home to rocks that contain the oldest evidence of life on Earth, in layered reefs calls stromatolites, created by tiny microbes. At 3.5 billion years old, these rocks are a similar age to those that can be found on Mars, so these rocks will help the NASA team identify where to dig for samples on Mars, and what to look for in the samples.