NASA Perseverance Rover Confirms That Mars Once Had Lakes and Rivers

Taken by Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z instrument, the image shows one remnant of the fan-shaped deposit of sediments inside Mars’ Jezero Crater 6 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS
NASA Perseverance rover take picture of the escarpmentTaken by the rover's Mastcam-Z, the image shows both the base and plateau of the escarpmentThis image shows the position of the rover and the steep slopesThis image shows the Jezero Crater and the escarpmentsThis image shows the Jezero Crater and the escarpments
Since it landed on the Red Planet back in February, NASA's car-sized rover has been exploring the Jazero Crater, an area that suggested it once hosted an ancient lake. Now, new images sent by Perseverance confirm the researchers' hypothesis.
The hydrological cycle of the now-dry lake from the Jezero Crater is more complex than previously thought, a new study reports. The evidence is based on precise imagery provided by NASA's Perseverance rover of steep slopes known as escarpments.

These escarpments formed from rock layers accumulated at the mouth of an ancient river billions of years ago, when Mars had an atmosphere thick enough to support water flowing across its surface. The sediments were carried by an old river that flowed into the crater's lake.

"Without driving anywhere, the rover was able to solve one of the big unknowns, which was that this crater was once a lake," said study co-author and MIT planetary scientist Benjamin Weiss.

The area has only been imaged from orbit prior to Perseverance's arrival on Mars. Now, the rover's images reveal the order and position of the rock layers for the first time, right from the planet's surface. The inclined and horizontal stratification is similar to what a geologist usually finds in a river on Earth.

A better understanding of Jezero's lake could provide insight into why the planet dried out. The sediments will serve as the foundation for the rover's second science campaign, which will take place next year. One of its main objectives is to collect samples that will be sent back to Earth and analyzed by scientists using powerful lab equipment that is too large to carry to Mars.

The new images also suggest where the rover should search for rock and sediment samples, including those that could hold evidence that there once existed life on Mars.

"The finest-grained material at the bottom of the delta probably contains our best bet for finding evidence of organics and biosignatures,"
said Sanjeev Gupta, a Perseverance scientist and a co-author of the paper.
If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram
Press Release
About the author: Florina Spînu
Florina Spînu profile photo

Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories