Pictures confirm the presence of water in what is now a desert

Long-suspected changes to the terrain now appear more clearly from scientific analysis of images of the Perseverance, which landed exactly in that crater last February, looking for traces of past life.

There could be no better place to study the climate shocks that have rocked the planet’s history.

This is evidenced by the results of the study published in the journal Science by an international team of experts headed by Nicholas Mangold, from the University of Nantes, and coordinated by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

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Photographs taken by Perseverance in the first three months of the mission – when the rover was still parked inside the crater to control the onboard tools – show in detail the fan-shaped rock formation found in the western part of Jezero and Kodiak Hill, not far away.

Analysis of the layers shows that the first structure was in fact a small river delta, which 3700 million years ago was quietly flowing carrying fine sediments.

However, at a certain point, a severe climate change could have caused a violent flood and movement towards the massive delta of rock, which is still visible.

Some of these rocks are one meter in diameter and seem to weigh several tons: according to experts, they were part of a bedrock that was on the edge of the crater, or perhaps about 50 kilometers inland.

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This image shows Santa Cruz, a hill located 2.5 km from the rover.  The whole scene inside Jezero crater on Mars.  The edge of the crater can be seen on the horizon line behind the hill.

This image shows Santa Cruz, a hill located 2.5 km from the rover. The whole scene inside Jezero crater on Mars. The edge of the crater can be seen on the horizon line behind the hill.

NASA / JPL-CALTECH / ASU

These rocks were deposited on the finest layers of sediment, where it appears that there are clay materials that could bear signs of past life.

“Now we have the possibility to search for fossils,” hung Tania Boussack, geobióloga del Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

“It will take some time to get to the slopes we want to analyze to look for signs of life. So, it will be a marathon, with great potential”It is to explain.

The most surprising thing that emerges from the persistence images, according to MIT paleontologist Benjamin Weiss, is “the possibility of capturing the moment the crater transformed from a habitable environment to the desolate wasteland we see today. These rock layers could have recorded the transition , something we have not yet seen anywhere else on Mars.”

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