Perseverance rover finds evidence of ancient floods on Mars, researchers say

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 months ago  •  51 comments

By:   Evan Bush

Perseverance rover finds evidence of ancient floods on Mars, researchers say
NASA's Perseverance rover discovered evidence that the Jezero crater on Mars it touched down in was once a lake bed fed by a river with floods, scientists say.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



The Perseverance rover, which spent months traveling to Mars, could hardly have landed in a more interesting spot.

The Jezero crater — a dry, wind-scoured patch of Martian rock where the rover touched down in February — was once a lake bed fed by an ancient river with floods so powerful they could move boulders, scientists say.

Those findings, published last week in the journal Science, confirmed scientists' suspicions that the crater contained a lake millions of years ago, and also suggests that this part of Mars had a warm, humid past with a more complicated water cycle than was known.

"There were rushing rivers here," Katie Stack Morgan, a deputy project scientist of the Mars 2020 project and an author of the paper, said of Jezero's landscape some 3.5 million years ago. "Jezero might have been a good place for life to exist and that environment evolved over time."

Further studies could help researchers understand why the planet dried out and provide new clues about whether the planet once supported life.

A view from the ground


New perspective — thanks to Perseverance — and geological detective work by scientists made these insights possible.

The rover, which transmitted imagery from the crater's surface back to Earth, provided scientists new views that couldn't be seen from space.

"What you think you're seeing from orbit around Mars may not be what you see when you get into the crater at eye level," Stack Morgan said.

The surface-level images supported scientists' theory that Jezero once featured a deep lake.

MarsAFP_9PG3DY-n3pk3j.jpg

Scientists simulate Mars surface in Israeli desert crater


The images also gave scientists, including the 39 authors of the Science paper, the ability to further analyze the layers of a rock on an outcropping called Kodiak. Researchers found those layers were consistent with how river deltas appear on Earth, suggesting water flowed into the ancient lake.

But the visuals also contained a few surprises. On other cliffs near Kodiak, the scientists noticed large boulders — some as wide as five feet across and shaped by water — within upper layers of the formations, according to the Science paper.

They suspect the boulders were deposited during massive flash flooding events powerful enough to rapidly transform the Martian watershed.

They don't know what caused these floods, but speculated in the paper that intense rainfall, rapid snowmelt or changes to glacier ice could have sent floodwaters raging.

"It could be very difficult to reconstruct that kind of thing," Stack Morgan said.

Looking for signs of life


Perseverance is the first rover to collect and cache Martian rock samples.

Stack Morgan said it's exciting to know with certainty the rover will visit and collect samples from an ancient lake that was fed by a river.

That means the rover will have access to a diversity of rock types that were deposited to the crater. The rover also should be able to reach and sample portions of ancient lake beds, which are "exactly the kind of beds on earth that are great for organic material and biosignatures," she said.

The rover could be in the right place to answer some of humankind's deepest questions.

"That's why we came to Jezero with Perseverance," she said. "So far, Jezero has not disappointed."


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Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
1  Ed-NavDoc    2 months ago

Fascinating article. Thank you for posting it Perrie.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2  Buzz of the Orient    2 months ago

I wonder if what we now see on Mars, is also the future of Earth 1.5 million years from now.  I think that what would be really exciting would be to find something that was created by intelligent life, sort of like the buried Statue of Liberty appears in the Planet of the Apes.  

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
2.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    2 months ago

That or a bit coin machine half buried in the sand...

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.1.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2.1    2 months ago

What's REALLY on Mars, and they're in hiding, just waiting for Earthlings to land, is this..

OIP-C.KnL8QXrrPx-txk4-PpugcQHaEK?w=209&h=182&c=7&r=0&o=5&pid=1.7

 
 
 
Dig
Masters Guide
2.2  Dig  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    2 months ago
I wonder if what we now see on Mars, is also the future of Earth 1.5 million years from now.

Only if we lose our magnetic field like Mars did. 

Doom is certainly in our future, if by nothing else then when the Sun becomes a red giant. But that's quite a bit farther off than 1.5 million years. 

I think that what would be really exciting would be to find something that was created by intelligent life, sort of like the buried Statue of Liberty appears in the Planet of the Apes. 

Forget about intelligent life (extremely unlikely), any life at all would be astonishing. I'd be jumping up and down if they could just find some long dead fossilized microbes from way back when Mars was wet and warm.

If they happen to find some still-living microbes I'd probably have a friggin' stroke or something. The idea of being able to study how their biology works and how close it might be to our own DNA-based life, and determining whether it was a genuine second instance of life or a possible panspermia event might be more than I could take. Well, not really, but you know what I mean. :)

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Dig @2.2    one month ago

If they DO find some kind of past life and bring it back to Earth to study I think that (being a movie fan and familiar with the concepts in The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park) I'd be very nervous about what could develop.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
2.2.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.2.1    one month ago

How about more recently in The Last Days on Mars?

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
2.2.3  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @2.2.2    one month ago

I just watched the preview, and the last words spoken in it were: "We can't let this get back to Earth", so hopefully they didn't.

 
 
 
Dig
Masters Guide
2.2.4  Dig  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.2.1    one month ago

You know, that's interesting thought. If living microbes from Mars were brought back here for study and got away form us, they might indeed act like a pathogen, with nothing here having any defense or immunity against them.

Then again, their life processes might be so completely different that they wouldn't pose any kind of threat at all. And with the very large temperature and pressure differences between Earth and Mars, they might not even be able to survive in the wild. Artificial lab environments might be the only place they could stay alive. Low temperature pressure vessels or something.

 
 
 
Dig
Masters Guide
2.2.5  Dig  replied to  Dig @2.2.4    one month ago
And with the very large temperature and pressure differences between Earth and Mars, they might not even be able to survive in the wild.

I've been thinking about that ever since I said it, and now I think it might be a non-issue.  As long as it's life as we generally understand it, then it would require liquid water. That means it would have to be way down deep in the Martian subsurface where pressures and temperatures could allow for whatever water is there to exist in a liquid state. If we ever were to find microbes deep in the ground on Mars and bring them back to Earth, then they probably could survive in the wild here.

The only way life as we know it could exist at or near the surface would be if it had somehow evolved the equivalent of a spacesuit — membranes that could in some way keep the cells pressurized and the water inside them liquified. Temperatures do get above freezing in the equatorial and lower latitude regions during the summer daytimes, so the temperature problem might not be as big of a hurdle as the low pressure one. I suppose they could be active on summer days when it's warm enough, metabolizing chemical or solar energy to make copies of themselves out of biologically-useful materials in the ground and carbon in the air, which is pretty much the only thing microbes ever do, and then lie dormant the rest of the time.

That might be a long shot, though. The deep underground scenario is probably much more likely, if there's anything living there at all.

The rovers on Mars do keep detecting methane in the air during the summers, but the source is unknown. It doesn't have to be from a biological source, but it might be.

 
 
 
al Jizzerror
Sophomore Expert
3  al Jizzerror    2 months ago

It's possible that the Martians had an ancient advanced civilization that "seeded" Earth billions of years ago.  If so we could be their descendants.  It would mean that we're Martians.  

So what happened to the ancient Martian civilization?  Did they have a nuclear war that destroyed everything and blew off most of their atmosphere?  Did they have their own issues with climate change?  Did an asteroid collide with Mars?  Did they have a war with a neighboring planet that they blew up to form the asteroid belt?  

Am I completely insane?  Don't answer that; it's a rhetorical question.

 
 
 
Dig
Masters Guide
3.1  Dig  replied to  al Jizzerror @3    2 months ago
So what happened to the ancient Martian civilization?

A civilization is highly doubtful, but it's generally thought that Mars lost most of its water and atmosphere because its core cooled (being much less massive than Earth) and its internal dynamo stopped producing a magnetic field. Without it, ionizing radiation split water vapor molecules in the air into hydrogen and oxygen, and the hydrogen (being so light) was soon lost to the stellar wind in the upper atmosphere and blown away into space, with other gasses following over time. Most of what's left is comparatively heavy CO2 (95% of the remaining but extremely thin atmosphere).

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
3.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  al Jizzerror @3    one month ago

There was a movie called Mission To Mars with Gary Sinese and Tim Robbins back in the 90's that had a very similar premise to that. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.2.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.2    one month ago

In the movies anything is possible. 

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
3.2.2  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.2.1    one month ago

Yep.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.2.3  Gordy327  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.2    one month ago

Yes, Mission to Mars. That was a good movie. One of the more (relatively) scientifically accurate sci-fi movies too.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
3.2.4  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Gordy327 @3.2.3    one month ago

True. It's competitor The Red Planet with Val Kilmer came out at roughly the same time was a bit too over the top in plot line, but sold better due to better special effects.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.2.5  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.2.4    one month ago

I think I'll limit my next movie quiz to Sci-Fi movies. 

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.2.6  Gordy327  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.2.4    one month ago
It's competitor The Red Planet with Val Kilmer came out at roughly the same time was a bit too over the top in plot line, but sold better due to better special effects.

Red Planet was more popcorn fare. Mission to Mars was more deep. Of course, now there are even better movies like Gravity and The Martian.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.2.7  Gordy327  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.2.5    one month ago
I think I'll limit my next movie quiz to Sci-Fi movies.

Bring it on! jrSmiley_49_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.2.8  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Gordy327 @3.2.7    one month ago

Will you and Ed join the usual participants and give it a try?

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
3.2.9  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.2.8    one month ago

Sure, I will.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.2.10  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.2.9    one month ago

How are you on horror movies?  The quiz that's up now is up for another couple of days.  Here is a link to it. -> 

Make sure you read the intoduction first so you'll get the picture on what to do.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.2.11  Gordy327  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.2.8    one month ago
Will you and Ed join the usual participants and give it a try?

Absolutely. Are you focusing only on movies or including sci-fi shows?

How are you on horror movies? 

Not so good. Outside of the big franchises like Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street, ect., I'm not very knowledgeable. 

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
3.2.12  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.2.10    one month ago

I am actually better with Science Fiction and Fantasy. Not a big horror fan.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.2.13  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Gordy327 @3.2.11    one month ago

Movies only, including ones shown only on TV (like QBVIII for example) but not TV series..  One of my regular participants told me at first that she wasn't really into horror movies and ended up with a very high score.  You should take a look at it and note that in many cases the clues I post suggest the name of the movie even if you've never watched it.  The link is in my comment to Ed just above yours.  But I will be closing the quiz tomorrow night.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.2.14  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.2.12    one month ago

I'll send you a PN with a link once I post my Sci-Fi movie quiz.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
3.2.15  Gordy327  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @3.2.13    one month ago

Horror movies are ok, but not my first go to, with few exceptions.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.2.16  JohnRussell  replied to  Gordy327 @3.2.15    one month ago

I like some of the old standbys, but am not at all into newer horror movies. Too many of them are just there for the gore. 

Back in the day Halloween was about spookiness, goosebumps, witches, and goblins and the "other" world.   Now it is about body counts and people getting hacked to death or tortured. 

If you look at streaming channels right now, you immediately see that horror movies are pretty much the feature offering this time of year. There are hundreds seemingly. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
3.2.17  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2.16    one month ago

Agreed.  I prefer the classics, the ones with Vincent Price and Bela Lugosi although Gene Wilder was hilarious.  I have never even bothered watching the more recent slasher movies. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
PhD Expert
4  Greg Jones    2 months ago

 "There were rushing rivers here," Katie Morgan, a deputy project scientist of the Mars 2020 project and an author of the paper, said of Jezero's landscape some 3.5 million years ago. "Jezero might have been a good place for life to exist and that environment evoStack lved over time."

Think it should be billion.  Mars lost its atmosphere a long time ago, although some water/ice could remain under the surface now.

 
 
 
Dig
Masters Guide
4.1  Dig  replied to  Greg Jones @4    2 months ago

Agreed. It should be billion. Good catch.

 
 
 
Veronica
Junior Guide
5  Veronica    2 months ago

My 2500X Great grandfather and uncles....

256

 
 
 
al Jizzerror
Sophomore Expert
6  al Jizzerror    2 months ago

WTF is wrong with NewStalkers?

This is an important and very interesting topic that should generate lots interest and discussion.

If you like an article, PLEASE GIVE IT A THUMBS UP!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Principal
6.1  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  al Jizzerror @6    one month ago

Don't complain.  This article got 10 times more activity than mine do on the Discovery Group, which is also about exploring and learning about places that we might never have known about.  People are reticent about broadening their horizons.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
7  Gordy327    2 months ago

For a barren planet, Mars never fails to amaze. It would be awesome if we discovered evidence of past life in ancient Mars lakes or riverbeds.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
8  JohnRussell    2 months ago

When I was younger I used to follow stories like this much more closely than I do now. 

At this point I am worried that the commercialization and corporatization of space will prove more dystopian in effect than utopian. 

But even beyond that, the business of humans should be to perfect earth before we go to other planets , galaxies and universes. 

Discovery of life on Mars , unless it is intelligent , communicative , life, is more of an intellectual pursuit than a practical one, imo. 

 
 
 
Dig
Masters Guide
8.1  Dig  replied to  JohnRussell @8    2 months ago
the business of humans should be to perfect earth before we go to other planets , galaxies and universes.

That's a good sentiment that I share somewhat, but I also think that becoming a space faring civilization (even just nearby) could lead to the development of many things that might actually help us take care of Earth in the long run. Technologies for living cleaner and supporting life sustainably with limited resources, for example.

Discovery of life on Mars , unless it is intelligent , communicative , life, is more of an intellectual pursuit than a practical one, imo.

Discovery of any kind of life at all, somewhere other than Earth, would be the single biggest scientific discovery in history. 

I bet you'd be excited about it if it happened.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
8.1.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Dig @8.1    2 months ago
Discovery of any kind of life at all, somewhere other than Earth, would be the single biggest scientific discovery in history. 

Maybe the single biggest scientific discovery, but I think the discovery of scientific principles in anatomy and biology and chemistry the led to the development of effective medical treatments for serious and deadly illnesses were more important than discovering life on another planet. 

 
 
 
Greg Jones
PhD Expert
9  Greg Jones    2 months ago
  • Space has already been commercialized and militarized, hence all the satellites and space debri
  • Humans will never 'perfect' the planet,  whatever that  means.
  • Humans evolved to learn and explore....we have an innate curiosity about nature and ourselves. Intellectual pursuits have led to all kinds of practical discoveries and applications
 
 
 
Jeremy Retired in NC
Senior Participates
10  Jeremy Retired in NC    2 months ago

This is an amazing find.  The amount of possible signs of life (can't rule out possible life) in this location and it's tributaries could be mind boggling.  It could also be buried under miles of sediment that was moved by those waters and wind over the millennia.  

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
11  Kavika     2 months ago

The discovery opens up many more possibilities. What is buried beneath the sediment is good for openers.

 
 
 
Raven Wing
Professor Principal
11.1  Raven Wing  replied to  Kavika @11    one month ago
What is buried beneath the sediment is good for openers.

I totally agree. What is the purpose of spending billions of dollars to send robots to Mars simply to pick up some rocks and take pictures to send back to earth to study. Sure such things may be useful in some areas of science, but, the search for prior occupancy by life forms, current or ancient, from which we could learn from should also be a priority. 

If indeed it was at one time a viable and inhabited planet and, for some as yet unknown reason fell into the barren and lifeless planet it has become, there may be important information people on planet Earth should know about, as there could be a day to come when we may face the possibility of the same thing happening to Earth. 

And with the number of more frequent comets and asteroids that are coming ever closer to Earth, and the ever present growing number of trigger fingers on the red buttons around the world ready to press it, including America, that day may not be as far away as some might like to think. To say nothing of natural disasters here on Earth that can cause the destruction of our own planet.

So finding out the real important facts and history of Mars must be a priority.

JMOO

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
11.2  Gordy327  replied to  Kavika @11    one month ago
The discovery opens up many more possibilities.

Possibly more than we know. Especially in planets where life can possibly exist. Either as potentially habitable worlds or as potential sites for extracting resources.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
11.2.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Gordy327 @11.2    one month ago

To say we have only scratched the surface on what is below is a vast understatement! Previous fossilized life is most likely buried under the continually shifting sands of Mars. We just have to get there and do some real digging.

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
11.2.2  Gordy327  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @11.2.1    one month ago

If water did indeed exist on Mars, then it is possible we might find fossils, even if they are quite primitive. Finding actual life, while improbable, would be huge.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
PhD Quiet
11.2.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Gordy327 @11.2.2    one month ago

Agreed. Other than possible live bacteria, however unlikely, what about something along the lines of a Tardigrade type of organism that can survive almost any extreme environment like they do here on Earth as well as the vacuum of space?

 
 
 
Gordy327
Professor Principal
11.2.4  Gordy327  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @11.2.3    one month ago
what about something along the lines of a Tardigrade type of organism that can survive almost any extreme environment like they do here on Earth as well as the vacuum of space?

They would likely be the most complex organism that can inhabit Mars. Underground ice/water deposits might be the most likely location to find them, or any such life, fossil or otherwise.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
11.2.5  cjcold  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @11.2.1    one month ago

Used to work for folk who had me testing space suits in extreme conditions.

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
11.2.6  cjcold  replied to  cjcold @11.2.5    one month ago

Used to work for folk who sent me to my death a few times (EPA).

 
 
 
cjcold
Professor Quiet
12  cjcold    one month ago

So glad I don't work for anybody anymore!

 
 
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