No signal of the anticipated lake mattress the place Perseverance rover landed

Image of the rover's mast in the red environment of Mars.
Enlarge / No, these donut tracks aren’t mine, officer.

The Perseverance rover landed in Mars’ Jezero Crater largely due to intensive proof that the crater as soon as hosted a lake, which means the presence of liquid water that may as soon as have hosted Martian life. And the touchdown was a hit, inserting the rover on the fringe of a construction that seemed to be a river delta the place the close by highlands drained into the crater.

However a abstract of the primary yr of knowledge from the rover, revealed in three completely different papers being launched in the present day, means that Perseverance has but to stumble throughout any proof of a watery paradise. As a substitute, all indications are that water publicity within the areas it explored was restricted, and the waters have been more likely to be close to freezing. Whereas this does not rule out that it’ll discover lake deposits later, the atmosphere won’t have been as welcoming for all times as “a lake in a crater” might need urged.

Placing all of it collectively

Perseverance could be thought-about a platform for a big suite of devices that present an image of what the rover is . Even its “eyes,” a pair of cameras on its mast, can create stereo pictures with 3D info, and supply info on what wavelengths are current within the pictures. It additionally has devices that may be held as much as rocks to find out their content material and construction; sample-handling {hardware} can carry out a chemical evaluation of supplies taken from rocks.

Whereas the brand new info is split into separate papers primarily based on the devices the information got here from, the important thing factor is that every one three paint a constant image and construct off one another.

For instance, the spectroscopy instruments present particulars of a pattern’s chemical composition however they do not inform us how these chemical substances are distributed in a rock. In distinction, there are X-ray evaluation instruments that provide inexact chemical info, however they inform us how the chemical substances it detects are positioned in comparison with the rock’s seen options. And the cameras on the rover’s mast may help us determine how broadly distributed related rocks are.

Collectively, these instruments inform us that Perseverance sampled rocks from two completely different deposits thus far. The primary contains the crater ground the place it landed, which is wealthy in iron- and magnesium-based minerals. Above that could be a separate formation that seems to be volcanic rock, though we will not rule out that it was fashioned by rock liquified following an affect.

Each deposits have been clearly formed by processes we all know are occurring on Mars. Most of the rocks have been formed by the wind and will have skilled some chemical alterations because of the ambiance or radiation publicity. In locations shadowed from the wind, free regolith has constructed up, a lot of it with Mars’ attribute purple tint. There’s additionally quite a lot of particles from impacts, together with some smaller ones inside the Jezero crater.

However the large query is whether or not the supplies present indications that water was current. The reply there’s a little bit of a “sure, however…”

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