NASA's Perseverance rover has been busy exploring boulders in Jezero Crater on Mars, with the aim of uncovering the planet's geological and astrobiological history. This mission has already provided some fascinating insights into the Red Planet's past.
Rover studies rocks that hold clues to Mars’ fluvial history and potential habitability
NASA’s Perseverance rover is examining boulders in Mars’ Jezero crater, revealing insights about the planet’s past rivers, habitability, and geological landscape beyond the rover’s reach.
The Perseverance rover is currently exploring an area of great interest in Mars’ Jezero crater, including a field of boulders likely washed away in the past. These boulders are located at the top of an alluvial fan, which was formed by rivers that once flowed through the area.
Boulders Provide Insight into Martian History
As the rivers carried sediment and larger rocks to the fan, they deposited these materials before the delta sediments. The boulders seen at the top of the delta were transported by water and settled as the water slowed. Many of the rocks in the field may have interacted with water at some point in Martian history, making them crucial targets for understanding Mars’ fluvial history and potential past habitability, according to Eleanor Moreland, a Ph.D. student at Rice University, in a mission blog post.
Interestingly, some of the rocks in the field likely originated outside Jezero crater. Orbital images reveal a large canyon carved out by the crater, indicating that these rocks may have been transported from tens of kilometers away. Studying these boulders offers insights into terrain far from Jezero crater that Perseverance could never otherwise observe.
Unlocking the Secrets of Martian Boulders
Investigating the composition, shape, and size of these boulders can help scientists formulate hypotheses about their origins, the distance they were transported, the speed of the water that moved them, and potentially the volume of water required for their transport, notes Moreland. Examining these rocks enables researchers to gain valuable information about the Martian surface and its history, well beyond the reach of the Perseverance rover.