The persistent rover, which spent months traveling to Mars, was unable to land somewhere more interesting.
Crater Lake – Windswept dry patch of Martian rock where the rover landed in February According to scientists, it was once the bottom of a lake, fed by an ancient river with floods so severe that they could move rocks.
Those results It was published last week in Science, confirmed the suspicion of scientists that the crater contained a lake millions of years ago, and also indicates that this part of Mars had a warm, humid past with a more complex water cycle than was known.
“Rivers flowed here,” said Katie Stack Morgan, March 2020 deputy scientist and author of a paper on the lake about 3.5 million years ago. “Maybe the lake was a good place to live, and that environment has evolved over time.”
More studies could help researchers understand why the planet is drying up and provide new clues about whether the planet ever supported life.
View from the ground
A new perspective – thanks to perseverance – and the geological research work of scientists made these ideas possible.
The rover, which transmitted images from the surface of the crater to Earth, provided scientists with new insights that cannot be seen from space.
“What you think you see from orbit around Mars may not be what you see when you enter a crater at eye level,” Stack Morgan said.
Surface-level images supported scientists’ theory that the lake once contained a deep lake.
The images also gave scientists, including 39 authors of the scientific work, the ability to analyze the layers of rock on a ledge called the Kodiak. The scientists found that these layers correspond to how river deltas appeared on Earth, indicating the flow of water into an ancient lake.
But the picture also contained many surprises. On other cliffs near Kodiak, scientists say, according to a scientific document, large boulders — some as high as five feet and shaped by water — are in the upper layers of the formations.
They suspect that the rocks were deposited during massive floods, which were powerful enough to quickly change the Martian basin.
They don’t know what caused these floods, but they speculated in the article that heavy rainfall, rapid snow melt or changes in glacial ice could lead to floodwaters.
“It can be very difficult to rebuild things like this,” Stack Morgan said.
Searching for signs of life
Perseverance is the first rover to collect and preserve samples of Martian rocks.
Stack Morgan said it’s exciting to know for sure that the rover will visit and collect samples from an ancient lake fed by the river.
This means that the rover will have access to the different types of rocks that were deposited in the crater. According to her, the rover should also be able to reach and sample parts of ancient lakes that are “exactly the kind of beds out there on Earth that are great for organic matter and bio-fingerprints.”
Rover could be in the right place to answer some of humanity’s most profound questions.
“That is why we came to the lake with such perseverance,” she said. “The lake hasn’t disappointed yet.”
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