The NASA rover “Perseverance” explores Mars and solves an important puzzle shortly after its arrival. He didn’t even prepare for it.
FRANKFURT/PASADENA – NASA rover “Perseverance” tackles major tasks on Mars. Among other things, it should look for signs of earlier microbial life on the Red Planet and research the geology and pre-Mars climate. The rover has already answered an important question with the first images ever sent to Earth, as NASA has now announced. Recording and simultaneous study was published in the journal Science,
“This is an important observation that confirms to us once and for all that Jezero Crater contained a lake and a river delta,” said study lead scientist Nicholas Mangold in a NASA message. Today the Jezero crater, in which “Perseverance” landed in February 2021, is bone dry. But once there was water, experts draw conclusions from the Mars rover’s recordings. So Jezero Crater 3.7 billion years ago was a lake that was filled by a small river.
NASA Rover Revealed: Jezero Crater on Mars Was a Lake With a River
The recording also tells experts that the lake may have been flooded. According to their study by the Mangold researchers, these floods carried large stones for kilometers along the river and deposited them in the lake where they are still located.
It’s no coincidence that “persistence” hits the bull’s eye soon after it arrives. The landing site at Jezero Crater was selected by NASA experts because it was suspected that water once flowed there. Recordings from Mars orbiters had already shown that Jezero Crater looked like a dry lake connected by a river delta. “The rover has solved one of the biggest puzzles ever without going anywhere,” says Benjamin Weiss, a delighted planetary scientist. “Until we got there, it was always a question: Was the crater ever a lake?”
NASA rover “Perseverance”: no accidental disclosure
Mars experts believe that the Red Planet once had water on its surface, but dried up about 3.5 billion years ago. At that time, according to the current state of research, Mars lost its magnetic field and gradually lost its atmosphere. Another theory suggests that Mars was too small to hold water permanently.
NASA Plans: Rover “Perseverance” to Visit East River Delta
Meanwhile, the rover “Perseverance” has driven about 2.6 kilometers into the Jezero crater and if everything goes according to plan, it will pull out even distant rocks to solve the mystery of the lake. It is planned that the rover will drive across the East River Delta to collect soil samples.
Experts believe that there may be traces of past life in the water in the sediments of the former lake. Therefore, “persistence” should also collect such samples. “Now we have the opportunity to search for fossils,” explains Tanja Bosak from MIT.
NASA rover “Perseverance”: soil samples to be sent from Mars to Earth
Soil samples that Persist collects will be stored by the rover on the surface of Mars. A future mission will bring samples from Mars back to Earth, where they can be directly examined by scientists. “It will take some time to get to the stones that we hope will contain traces of life. This is a marathon with great potential,” Bosak continued.
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Until then, research will have to rely on “persistence” and the older NASA rover “Curiosity,” which conducts research on Mars in a different area. “A better understanding of Jezero Crater is critical to understanding the changing hydrology in the region,” said persistence scientist Sanjeev Gupta in a NASA release. “It could provide valuable insight into why the entire planet has dried up.”
Weiss has another hope: It’s possible the rock may have found a time when the crater “moved from an Earth-like, habitable environment into this ravaged wasteland,” he explains. “These debris beds could be records of this transition. We haven’t seen this in other places on Mars.” (tab)
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