Recent images taken by NASA’s Perseverance rover suggest rivers once existed on mars, in the form of waterways that once flowed into the Jezero Crater.
Researchers believe these findings could possibly aid in the search for signs of life, that could possibly be preserved in Martian rock.
The Perseverance Rover is currently exploring a fan-shaped pile of sedimentary rock that stands 820 feet (250 meters) tall, and features layers that seem to have formed by flowing water. Scientists are trying to determine whether the water flowed in relatively shallow streams, or in a more powerful river system.
Images taken by Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z instrument reveal coarse sediment grains and cobbles, indicating the presence of river that once carried a significant amount of debris.
Libby Ives, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has been studying the images and believes the river was deeper and faster-moving than previously thought. As someone with experience studying Earth-based rivers, Libby finds it fascinating to see familiar processes on another planet.
With all this data, it’s important to realize researchers are looking in the the past, not the present. There is no running water on Mars, researchers are looking at old dried-up riverways. At the moment, we haven’t found any “martians”.
If you weren’t aware of the Preseverence Mission, the key objective for the rover is to study astrobiology, which includes looking for signs of ancient micronbial life. It will also collect samples of martian rocks, which will eventually be sent back to earth for studying.