Friday, June 9, 2023

New images from the Perseverance rover show a mighty river may have existed on Mars

Pasadena, California – Billions of years ago a mighty river may have crossed Mars.

The Perseverance rover has captured new images that show geological clues to a mighty river that fed Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient Martian lake.

After Perseverance lands on the Red Planet in February 2021, it will begin searching for remnants of the environment inside the crater, which now looks like a dried-up lake bed.

Perseverance rover finds “treasure trove” of organic material on Mars

About a year ago, the rover began studying a 250-meter-long fan-shaped reservoir, possibly the remains of an ancient river delta. First, Perseverance studied the cut edge on the front of the fan. Now the rover has moved to the top of the fan to explore sedimentary rock that may preserve past evidence of water – and of life, if it ever existed.

“This fan really represents the main story of water in the crater,” Katie Stack Morgan, deputy project scientist for Perseverance at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), told CNN. “With the rover, we are actually moving through different environments that once had water associated with them. So here at Jezero, we have evidence of ancient lakes, deltas and rivers.”

The curved layers of the fans suggest they got their shape from flowing water, and the latest images taken by the rover point to a deeper, faster-moving river on Mars than scientists expected. This is the first time that scientists have seen such an atmosphere on Mars.

Scientists have long been curious about the different types of waterways that may have existed on Mars more than 3 billion years ago, when the planet was warm and wet. Earlier observations by the Curiosity rover that landed on Mars in 2012 and discovered Gale Crater, about 3,700 kilometers away, found evidence for shallow streams rather than mighty rivers.

Firmly the latest finds, collected in two mosaic images, show boulders and coarse sediment grains.

“This indicates that this is a high-energy river with a lot of debris. The more powerful the water flow, the more easily it is able to move large pieces of material,” said Libby, a postdoctoral researcher at JPL. Ives said. release.

According to Morgan, rivers probably carried large rocks and debris from other parts of Mars to Jezero Crater.

Clues in new Mars mosaics

One of the mosaics depicts a reservoir called “Srinkle Heaven”, where running water carved layers of rock that have remained in place billions of years later. Scientists aren’t sure why the rows of rocks that seem to ripple across the landscape are like the shifting banks of the Mississippi or the island-shaped shoals of the Platte River in Nebraska.

The bands of rocks in this “Skinkle Heaven” image taken by the Perseverance rover may have been formed by a fast-flowing river. To create this mosaic, the rover took 203 pictures between February 28 and March 9. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The rock layers were probably much higher in the past, but have been eroded by wind over time.

“The wind acted like a scalpel that cut through the tops of these reservoirs,” Michael Lamb, a river expert and contributor to the persistence science team at Caltech, said in a statement. “We see deposits like this on Earth, but they are not as well exposed here on Mars. Earth is covered in vegetation that hides these layers.”

Perseverance also observed the “Pinestand”, an isolated mountain structure sandwiched between layers of sedimentary rock that juts skyward up to 20 meters in height.

The rover also captured a “pinestand” mosaic where layers of sedimentary rock may have been formed by a deep, fast-flowing river.

“These layers are unusually high for rivers on Earth,” Ives said. “But at the same time, the most common way to form these types of landforms would be a river.”

Perseverance and the Pursuit of Life

Scientists are using every tool on Perseverance to get to the bottom of the river’s mystery, including the rover’s Ground Penetrating Radar Imager for Mars Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX) to search beneath the reservoir. The Perseverance team is also analyzing other images taken by the rover.

New images from the perseverance rover show a mighty river may have existed on mars

The Ingenuity helicopter, which serves as an aerial scout for the rover, took a photo of Perseverance on April 22 during its 51st flight. The rover can be seen in the upper left of the image. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Rock and soil samples collected by the rover will eventually travel to Earth via the ambitious Mars Sample Return Program, a series of successive missions scheduled over the next decade that will venture to the Red Planet, collect samples from the Perseverance Stash and Will bring them. Back. Back to testing by scientists in laboratories around the world.

“One of the reasons we chose Jezero as a landing site is because the more diverse rocks we have, the better chance we have of learning more about the processes that occur on Mars,” Morgan explained. “We have a variety of potentially habitable environments recorded within these rocks.”

Samples of Martian rocks and soil may reveal whether life once existed on Mars.

“To answer that question, we have to bring these rocks back to Earth, where we have really sophisticated instruments and laboratories that can really probe that question,” Morgan said. “And it’s a difficult question to answer. We have a hard time answering this question even with the rocks of the early Earth. But the work of persistence is to identify the rocks most likely to support life, And that’s what we’ve accomplished.”

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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