Mars rover Perseverance on its way to the lake delta

(ORDO NEWS) — Last week’s blog post talked about the Perseverance rover’s rapid transition to the delta. This week’s blog is about the delta itself and why it’s worth approaching fast!

The outlook for the delta is that every day will be filled with excitement and anything that can bring. On a space mission like M2020, you’re used to an exciting timeline, but for a geologist, the excitement in this area comes from not knowing what’s coming next. Each image that the rover takes in the area of ​​rocks in the delta will be unique in a real sense.

A delta is formed when a river, saturated with sediment or suspension, flows into a body of stagnant water and, slowing down, can no longer hold sediment, so it dumps stones, gravel and soil into the body of water, which gently sinks to the bottom and forms a delta.

Over time, the delta becomes a multi-layered repository, like a book with pages that can be flipped through every day to learn more about the history of Mars.

How is this achieved? Well, the rocks and sediment had to come from somewhere. They were obtained in a region called the “watershed” of the delta.

This is a much larger area than Lake Crater (itself about 45 km across), and the rocks we see in the delta will tell us about a wide range of Martian processes, and some rocks may even be older than Lake Crater itself (about 3.9 billion years).

This can happen, for example, if a very old rock is preserved in a watershed and then swept up into the river and finally into the Lake crater. If we do get access to these super-ancient rocks, then it will be a very interesting thing that the rover will sample for later return to Earth.

Another amazing possibility is that in these deltaic rocks we can find fossilized traces of ancient Martian life. According to one scenario, life could have originated at the beginning of the Noahian period (about 4 billion years ago), when Mars was probably more friendly to life, and persist in the watershed until one fateful day, when they were washed into the river system, and then into crater.

So these interesting rocks will be coming to us all the time as we explore the delta, and you can appreciate that every day in the delta will be exciting for every scientist on the team, because every day can be a day when we make a big find. Really big.


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