The Perseverance robot confirms that there really was a lake on Mars

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The Perseverance robot confirms that there really was a lake on Mars

Recently, NASA researchers studied data from their Martian vehicle Perseverance to explain climate change on the red planet. The targeted area would once have housed a lake. However, the samples taken suggest a timeline of events that does not fit the currently established pattern. The new discovery therefore raises new questions waiting to be answered.

NASA's Perseverance rover

During their experiments, the scientists first looked for the traces of a specific type of rock usually present at the bottom of lakes. Astonishment, they fell on igneous stones of various constitutions. Additional analyzes have shown that the lake did indeed exist, but disappeared for reasons still unknown.

Reports of the study appear in the journal Science Advances. The area studied by the rover is called jezero. Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley of Caltech was one of the key players in the research.

Mars hides many mysteries on its surface

As a general rule, the pebbles encountered at the bottom of lakes are sedimentary stones. The rocks discovered by the Martian rover then intrigued researchers because of their nature. Perseverance samples reveal two types of igneous rocks resulting from the cooling of magma in different media. One was formed in depth and the other on the surface.

These stones constitute gold mines for researchers since they keep in their core the traces of the chronology of events since their creations. Thanks to the analyses, it turned out that the existence of the river is posterior to these igneous rocks.

Satellites have also spotted a mineral olivine formation approximately 70,000 square kilometers. With such dimensions, researchers have struggled to explain the origin of this inorganic expanse. The most credible hypothesis states that the olivine would have formed at depth with a slow cooling of the magma. Subsequently, erosion episodes led to the formation of the surface structure.

“The Jezero lakes were present long after the formation of the igneous rocks. But when did the Martian climate become uninhabitable? »

Perseverance project scientist Ken Farley of Caltech

Precise searches require state-of-the-art equipment

Obtaining the data provided by the NASA rover was only possible with very elaborate devices. The analysis unit of Perseverance actually contains the SuperCam laser coupled to a radar called RIMFAX.

SuprerCam first pulverizes a target rock and the dust resulting from this process is scanned with a visible light spectrometer. The purpose of the maneuver is to determine the chemical composition of the selected stone. In addition, RIMFAX can provide precise detail and probe subsurface sediments to a depth of up to 15 meters.


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