Above: Jezero Crater as Seen by ESA's Mars Express Orbiter: This image shows the remains of an ancient delta in Mars' Jezero Crater, which NASA's Perseverance Mars rover will explore for signs of fossilized microbial life. See NASA's Mars 2020 site for more information.
The most recent issue of Free Astronomy Magazine (January-February 2023) is available for your reading and downloading pleasure at www.astropublishing.com (and facebook).
My contribution this month (with my NASA SSA hat on) is a chemistry-heavy dive into the dry lake bed that is Jezero Crater after the 15 September 2022 announcement from NASA entitled NASA’s Perseverance Rover Investigates Geologically Rich Mars Terrain (and, for more background, see the March-April 2021 issue). The request from our fearless leader Michele Ferrara was to consider this report in the context of a lot of the "(possible) signs of life" articles written in the days after this announcement, for which there were many related articles. I am very pleased to report, that, generally, all of the articles I found in my research were appropriately conservative in their analyses (after the headlines in some cases, of course). But I wrote an article anyway.
Some of the text might have benefited from some bio-specific figures in the article, but there's a wealth of catch phrases ripe for web searching and much more information, leaving the article itself (still at 10 pages) to something that returns the reader back to the overarching issue of the difference between the detection of simple organics on Mars and anything else one might want to extract and extrapolate from that detection.
I'm excited to report that this year will also mark the availability of the magazine in Arabic, thanks in astronomical part to the efforts of members of the Jeddah Astronomy Society (twitter, facebook). It is a beautiful script and all parties (not I) involved deserve plenty of credit for handling the conversion and formatting.
Browser-readable version (and PDF download): www.astropublishing.com/1FAM2023/