Long-suspected changes in the terrain are now more clearly visible 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).
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 instruments – 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 actually 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 the movement of huge boulders, still visible, towards the delta.
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 50 kilometers inland.
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 time to get to the slopes that 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.”