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NASA’s Perseverance Rover Confirms Ancient Martian Lake Sediments, Signaling a Watery Past

London, January 27, 2024, The Europe Today: NASA’s Perseverance rover has provided conclusive data affirming the existence of ancient lake sediments formed by water that once filled Mars’ massive Jerezo Crater, as detailed in a study published on Friday.

Ground-penetrating radar observations conducted by the robotic rover confirmed earlier orbital imagery, supporting the theory that parts of Mars were once submerged in water, raising the possibility of past microbial life.

The study, led by teams from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Oslo, was published in the journal Science Advances.

Perseverance’s ground-penetrating radar, known as RIMFAX, captured subsurface scans during its traverse across the Martian surface in 2022. These scans unveiled cross-sectional views of rock layers up to 65 feet (20 meters) deep, providing clear evidence that soil sediments, carried by water, were deposited at Jerezo Crater and its delta by a flowing river.

The sedimentary layers date back approximately 3 billion years, suggesting a transformation in Mars from a warm, wet environment to its current cold and arid state.

While previous remote analyses of early core samples unexpectedly revealed volcanic rocks near Perseverance’s landing site, the latest findings complement those discoveries. The volcanic rocks displayed signs of alteration due to water exposure, and the RIMFAX readings identified erosion patterns before and after the formation of sedimentary layers, indicating a complex geological history.

These results reinforce the notion that Mars underwent significant environmental changes, transitioning from a potentially habitable, water-rich past to its current state. The confirmation of ancient lake sediments strengthens scientists’ anticipation of studying collected samples to gain deeper insights into Mars’ history and the potential for past life.

Perseverance’s mission is pivotal in unraveling the mysteries of Mars, offering researchers valuable information about the planet’s geological and climatic evolution.