Rover’s photos present lengthy historical past of rivers flowing into Martian crater

Image of an orange-tinted rock formation.

Enlarge / The rocks of Kodiak Butte file quite a lot of the historical past of Jezero Crater. (credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

Usually, it takes a while for NASA’s Mars rovers to return scientific information. The devices should be calibrated and commissioned, and the rover wants to maneuver off the touchdown web site towards a bit of panorama with clear scientific curiosity. Within the case of the Perseverance rover, there was an added delay because it examined out the Ingenuity drone over the course of a number of weeks.

However this week introduced a nice shock: The primary analysis paper from Perseverance was printed in Science. It seems that a number of the early images from the rover revealed options in some near-vertical rock partitions far from the touchdown web site—particulars that inform us in regards to the historical past of the circulation of water into Jezero Crater.

Mars meets Kodiak

The Jezero Crater was chosen as Perseverance’s touchdown web site as a result of photos taken from orbit point out it as soon as hosted a lake. The photographs revealed an exit channel that allowed water to circulation via a spot within the crater partitions and a web site the place rivers flowed in to feed the lake. There was additionally what seemed to be a river delta spreading into the crater from these websites. The rover’s mission profile contains sampling materials from that delta, which could as soon as have been an inviting surroundings for all times and would have collected any dwelling materials that existed upstream.

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