The Jezero crater on Mars was once a lake connected to a small river that could hold traces of alien life, Nasa’s Perseverance rover has confirmed.
illions of years ago, the barren Red Planet once had an atmosphere thick enough to support flowing water.
The 100-metre-deep lake that used to be in the crater is thought to have been high enough to crest the eastern rim of the depress, where the remains of a river channel are still visible.
The size of the lake changed rapidly over time, which could have been due to flooding or slower environmental changes.
“Never before has such well-preserved stratigraphy been visible on Mars,” said Nicolas Mangold, a Perseverance scientist from the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Geodynamique in Nantes.
“This is the key observation that enables us to once and for all confirm the presence of a lake and river delta at Jezero. Getting a better understanding of the hydrology months in advance of our arrival at the delta is going to pay big dividends down the road.”
Sanjeev Gupta, a Perseverance scientist from Imperial College London, added that a better understanding of this delta is “key to understanding the change in hydrology for the area” and could “potentially provide valuable insights into why the entire planet dried out”.
The images were taken by the rover’s dual left and right Mastcam-Z cameras as well as its Remote Micro-Imager (RMI) which help research teams decide where the vehicle should best hunt for rock and sediment samples.
The scientists hope that these samples, which could be brought back to Earth by later missions, may contain organic compounds and other evidence of alien life.