The hopes of scientists were strengthened that Perseverance had already found traces of Marsi’s life

The hopes of scientists were strengthened that Perseverance had already found traces of Marsi’s life

If there are indeed signs of life on Mars, there is a chance that the Perseverance rover has already passed by them. Judging by the underground radar images, he is looking for the perfect place for fossilized microbial life.

The rover’s instruments confirm that at least one Martian crater was once filled with water. A river delta may once have existed in Crater Lake, as its surface bears signs of a dried-up lake bed fed by an ancient river. That is why a rover was sent to study the crater in February 2021.

Now that researchers can peer beneath Jezero’s dust, they are more excited than ever about the possibility that Perseverance has already detected signs of extraterrestrial life. “From orbit, we can see many different sediments, but we can’t say for sure whether what we see is their initial state or whether we are seeing the end of a long geological history,” explains planetary scientist and first author of the study David Page of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). “To find out how they formed, we need to look below the surface.”

Of all the seven instruments installed on board the Perseverance, the most interesting in this case is the ground penetrating radar, called RIMFAX for short. This system is capable of detecting ice, fresh or salt water more than 10 meters below the dust surface, as well as mapping soil and rock layers.

An underground survey now proves convincingly that the guess was correct. Beneath the supposed delta, an international team of researchers has found evidence that a 4-billion-year-old crater formed by an asteroid impact was later filled with younger sediments and rocks.

The findings confirm previous RIMFAX data obtained elsewhere, which revealed unexpected gradients in the sedimentary rock layers deposited in the crater.

These younger sediments could have been formed there by water flows and by volcanic activity, but new radar data from Perseverance suggest that the former hypothesis is more likely.

A diagram of the precipitation accumulation and erosion history of the western Jezero River delta.

Under the western edge of the Lake, horizontal layers of underground sediments were apparently deposited in an aquatic environment resembling an earthly lake. This lake could occupy a large part of the crater, and be up to 7 kilometers deep, although further research is needed to confirm this fact.

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