Séítah is an area filled with sand dunes and rocky terrain, something not ideal for a wheeled rover. Its buddy Ingenuity was capable of flying across the region, gaining ground. Once at the delta, the helicopter will act as an aerial scout and help Perseverance choose the best route and spots to investigate.
The rover will then be able to examine sedimentary rock layers, clay minerals, and rounded boulders swept down from far beyond Jezero. These characteristics are remnants of the crater's wet past, which indicate that life might have been possible on Mars billions of years ago.
If there was once a habitable environment on the Red Planet, the delta is the best place to search for it because stratified muds may have preserved traces of that microbial life. Studying some of these extremely old sediments is crucial in understanding the past of our currently cold, dusty neighbor.
Researchers are contemplating the possibility that life began approximately four billion years ago (when Mars had conditions suitable for supporting life) and was carried into the river system, then into the crater. Perseverance will search for these unique rocks that were swept there and will collect them. Then, a future mission will return them to Earth for further investigation.
But the rover's journey to the delta is not over yet. The recent images published by NASA show some layered rocks in the distance, signaling that it's getting closer to reaching its destination.
My long haul to the ancient river delta is almost done. Up ahead: layered rocks, laid down in water, sure to hold secrets of what their environment was once like. Could they even give hints about past life? Time will tell…— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) April 15, 2022
More in the latest team blog: https://t.co/OH4pflHxaI pic.twitter.com/Nq5x0x1TkC