LOS ANGELES: Nasa’s rover Perseverance has gathered data confirming the existence of ancient lake sediments deposited by water that once filled a giant basin on Mars called Jerezo Crater, according to a study.

The findings from ground-penetrating radar observations conducted by the robotic rover substantiate previous orbital imagery and other data leading scientists to theorize that portions of Mars were once covered in water and may have harbored microbial life.

The research, led by teams from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Oslo, was published in the journal Science Advances.

It was based on subsurface scans taken by the car-sized, six-wheeled rover over several months of 2022 as it made its way across the Martian surface from the crater floor onto an adjacent expanse of braided, sedimentary-like features resembling, from orbit, the river deltas found on Earth.

Soundings from the rover’s RIMFAX radar instru­ment allowed scientists to peer underground to get a cross-sectional view of rock layers 65 feet deep, “almost like looking at a road cut,” said UCLA planetary scientist David Paige, the first author of the paper.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2024

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