In an extraordinary discovery of a time that once was, NASA's Perseverance rover — which has been exploring Mars since February 2021 — is now roaming in the circular rimmed depressions of the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet.
This week, NASA released an animated artist's concept that depicts water breaking through at the rim of the crater. Researchers believe water entered Jezero billions of years ago, bringing deposits of sediment with it. That sediment eventually built up to form a delta.
Scientists have now hypothesized a detailed timeline for how the crater formed and now believe there were three significant periods of time during which water flooded through the rim of Jezero.
NASA says a key mission for the Perseverance spacecraft is learning more about the astrobiology of the planet and the areas of it that the rover is able to explore.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory published details of a mission that Perseverance conducted to learn more about an ancient Martian lake. As the rover reaches 1,000 days on Mars, it also recently explored an ancient river delta. That's where the lake is situated that would have once filled the Jezero crater so long ago.
In a sample from an area that scientists named "Lefroy Bay," a significant amount of fine-grained silica, which is the same substance that is able to preserve fossils on Earth, was collected and observed.
Ken Farley, a Caltech project scientist, said researchers chose Jezero to be a landing site for Perseverance.
"We’ve pieced together the crater's geologic history, charting its lake and river phase from beginning to end," Farley said.
NASA says that future missions will work with the European Space Agency to send other spacecraft to Mars to collect sealed samples and return them to Earth to do a more in-depth analysis.
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