February 25, 2024

NASA rover discovers ancient water on Mars

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NASA carefully selected the landing site for the Mars rover Perseverance. Now the vehicle provides proof that this was the right decision.

Los Angeles – NASA's decision to land the Mars rover “Perseverance” in Jezero Crater was based on the assumption that this place could have once been a lake. Finally, from Mars' orbit, you can clearly see a kind of river delta. Since its arrival on Mars in February 2021, Perseverance has succeeded. He discovered several clues pointing to earlier water. More evidence of past water in Jezero Crater has now been added from a new perspective.

With the help of the ground-penetrating radar RIMFAX, Perseverance searched deep underground in Jezero Crater. Every ten centimetres, the vehicle sends radar waves to the ground that penetrate 20 meters deep. Data collected on Mars allow researchers to precisely analyze the composition of the crater floor. “Some geologists say that radar's ability to see beneath the surface is a bit of a scam,” commented David Page, vice president of RIMFAX Investigations, with a wink.

NASA's Perseverance rover scans Mars with ground-based radar

“From orbit we can see a range of different deposits, but we cannot say with certainty whether what we see is their original state or whether we are witnessing the end of a long geological history,” Page points out in one article. notice. “To know how these things formed, we have to look beneath the surface.”

And that's exactly what Perseverance did for the research team, sending remarkable data back to Earth. The images show clear evidence of two different stages of sediment deposition, interspersed between two periods of erosion. The sediments are arranged regularly and horizontally, just like the sediments deposited in lakes on Earth. This means that Perseverance can confirm the presence of lake sediments in Jezero Crater on Mars for the first time.

Artist's impression: This is what Jezero Crater looked like, where the rover landed
Artist's impression: This is what Jezero Crater, where NASA's Perseverance rover landed on Mars, looked like: a well filled with water. © NASA/JPL

NASA rover shows: Mars crater was filled with water

“The changes we see in the rocky record are due to large-scale changes in the Martian environment,” Page points out. The scientist is excited: “It is great that we can see so much evidence of change in such a small geographical area, allowing us to extend our results to the entire crater.”

The study was conducted by the Paige research team In the specialized magazine Advancement of science published. Overall, it shows that the Martian crater was once filled with water, which deposited layers of sediment on the crater floor. Over time, the lake shrank and the river that fed it eroded sediment, creating the vast river delta that can be seen from orbit. Over time, the water in the lake and river disappeared, the sediments eroded, and geological features appeared that can still be seen on Mars today.

Perseverance searches for traces of past life on Mars

Scientists now hope that Perseverance's goal will not be limited to searching for water in the right place, but that potential traces of life in Jezero Crater will have survived over time. It is entirely conceivable that microbial life existed in the Martian crater when it was wet. It is hoped that such traces will be discovered in sediment samples from the crater.

Among other things, Perseverance is looking for evidence of early microbiological life on Mars. The rover collects rock samples stored on Mars for a later mission. In the future, these samples will be returned to Earth and analyzed by scientists. One researcher suspects that NASA discovered life on Mars in the 1970s, but accidentally killed it. (unpaid bill)

The editor wrote this article and then used an AI language model to improve at her own discretion. All information has been carefully checked. Find out more about our AI principles here.

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