(ORDO NEWS) — Since then, Perseverance has been exploring the region for evidence of past (and possibly present) life, much like its cousin, the Curiosity rover.
This includes receiving samples to be cached and retrieved by a future ESA/NASA sample return mission.
This will be the first directly obtained sample of Martian rocks and soil to be analyzed in a laboratory on Earth, which is expected to reveal some tantalizing facts about the red planet’s history.
But we don’t seem to be doing it. the sample return mission must wait, as the Perseverance rover is already sending amazing data back to Earth.
According to a new study by a research team led by the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). ) and the University of Oslo ground penetrating radar Perseverance found that the rock layers under the crater are strangely tilted. ed.
These strange cuts may have formed from slowly cooling lava flows, or they may have been sediment from an underground lake.
The research team was led by Svein-Erik Hamran, Professor of Autonomous Systems and Sensor Technology at the University of Oslo (UiO) and Principal Investigator of the Radar Imager for the Under-Mars Surface Experiment (RIMFAX) aboard the Perseverance rover.
He was joined by researchers from UiO, UCLA, the Planetary Science Institute (PSI), Vestfonna Geophysical, the Center for Astrobiology, the Norwegian Polar Institute, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and several universities. An article describing their findings recently appeared in the journal Science Advances .
Located on the Great Syrtis Plateau between the Northern Lowlands and the Southern Highlands, Jezero Crater measures about 45 km (28 mi) in diameter and is believed to have once been a lake.
The region was specifically chosen as a landing site for the Perseverance company, which is exploring the large deposits of rocks and clay minerals deposited in its western part. edges where water once flowed into the crater.
Like Curiosity, the goal is to learn more about the periods when there was flowing water on the surface of Mars so scientists can better understand how (and when) it transitioned to the cold and arid planet it is today.
As they indicate in their study, the team checked with the first data obtained using the Radar Imager for Mars subsurFAce eXperiment (RIMFAX), which conducted the first rover. georadar survey of the Martian interior.
These surveys, taken as the rover made its initial 3 km crossing of Jezero Crater, provided continuous data on the electromagnetic properties of the bedrock structure below the crater, 15 meters (~49 feet) below the surface.
The resulting radar images showed multi-layered sequences that fall down at an angle of up to 15 degrees.
David Page, UCLA professor, professor in the Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences and one of the leading RIMFAX researchers explained in a recent ULCA news release:
“We were quite surprised to find the stones stacked at an oblique angle. We expected to see horizontal rocks at the bottom of the crater.
The fact that they are tilted in this way requires a more complex geological history.
They could have been formed as molten rock rose to the surface, or alternatively, they could be older delta deposits buried in the crater floor.”
RIMFAX paints a picture of Mars’ subsurface geology by sending bursts of radar waves to the surface that are reflected by rock layers and other elements underground.
This allows scientists to determine the shapes, density, thickness, angles and composition of underground objects based on how the radar waves are returned to the instrument.
After analyzing the data, the research team noted that layered rocks were common throughout the study area. Persistence. More puzzlingly, they also found that sloping areas have highly reflective rock layers that tilt in multiple directions.
The most likely explanation for the sloping layers they witnessed points to a magmatic (molten) origin. , where is mo of magma, which over time cooled and solidified underground.
However, there is a possibility that these layers are sedimentary, as is commonly seen in aquatic environments on Earth.
In this case, the features occur due to the fact that the water deposits material over time, which hardens and becomes layered. As Paige said, this reminded us of another familiar Earth feature:
“RIMFAX gives us a view of the stratigraphy of Mars, similar to what you can see on Earth in sections of the highway, where there are high piles.
When you drive by, sometimes layers of rocks are visible on the side of the mountain.
Before Perseverance landed, there were many hypotheses about the exact nature and origin of the crater floor material.
Range of possibilities, but the data we have received so far suggests that the history of the crater floor may be a little more complicated than we expected.”
The data collected by RIMFAX will be of great value when the samples collected by Perseverance are returned to Earth for analysis. Knowing what lies beneath the Jezero crater and how it formed will provide the necessary context for characterizing the specimens.
This will give a clearer picture of how and when water flowed on the surface of Mars, for how long, and whether it was intermittent or not. It will also show how and when Mars transitioned into the extremely cold and dry environment we see today.
But most importantly, these data could reveal whether Mars was ever capable of supporting life on its surface, which could finally answer the question people have been asking for centuries!
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