In a recent exploration on the Martian surface, NASA’s Perseverance rover discovered fresh evidence of a powerful Mars river system on the red planet. Unlike the previous observations, the most recent discovery shows that the red planet truly has a watery past because of the nature of the powerful river system.
NASA revealed that this unique evidence of past water on Mars could fasten the effort scientists are making to discover ancient microbial life on Mars. The American space agency said that ancient microbial life may have been preserved in a band of massive sedimentary rocks found in the powerful river system.
How Perseverance Rover Spotted the Mars river system
NASA Perseverance rover has been exploring Mars since it landed on the surface of the red planet in 2021. It made its most recent discovery of a powerful river system while exploring curving bands of layered rock platforms that exist within Jezero Crater. Scientists named these rock platforms, “the curvilinear unit,” because of their shape.
In addition, the rover enabled astronomers to learn that the sedimentary rock pile is standing at about 820 feet (250 meters) tall. The curving layers of the river system show that flowing water could have passed through the system billions of years ago. Scientists reveal that similar curving layers can also be found on Earth, mostly covered by vegetation.
Hence, the existence of this river system on Mars inspired researchers to suggest that the red planet once had a deeper and fast-flowing river on its surface.
“Those indicate a high-energy river that’s truckin’ and carrying a lot of debris. The more powerful the flow of water, the more easily it’s able to move larger pieces of material,” said Libby Ives, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which operates the Perseverance rover, in an official statement.
What NASA thinks about the latest discovery
NASA scientists marvel at the latest discovery of a deeper Mars river system on the red planet. They think that the river system is part of the network of waterways that channeled water into the Jezero Crater in ancient Mars. NASA has considered making this region one of its primary destinations to explore on the Martian surface. The MastCam-Z instrument installed onboard the Perseverance rover captured hundreds of images which NASA scientists joined together to learn more about this region of Mars.
Based on the recent images, scientists learned that the layers were taller in the past than observed recently by the Perseverance rover. The rock piles lost part of their height to sandblasting by the harsh wind on Mars. However, the rock is still strong enough to retain some of its billions of years after losing its water.
“The wind has acted like a scalpel that has cut the tops off these deposits. We do see deposits like this on Earth, but they’re never as well exposed as they are here on Mars. Earth is covered in vegetation that hides these layers,” said Michael Lamb of Caltech, a river specialist and Perseverance science team collaborator, in the press release.
NASA’s Perseverance rover recently spotted a wild Mars river system on the red planet. NASA scientists are hoping to look beneath this region with a penetrating radar instrument known as RIMFAX (Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment) to learn more about the ancient river that once existed in this part of Mars. What do you think about this latest discovery?