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Ancient lake discovered on Mars

A cloud of red smoke. And a few seconds of uncertainty. That’s how visually tickling real-time images can describe when NASA’s space shuttle Perseverance, immersed in a parachute, bounced off the dusty surface of Mars in February 2021. The applause knew no bounds. Astronomers of the world have thrown their hands at the idea that persistence will collect samples for several years to answer the question of whether there is any life on the red iron oxide planet.

Then the water disappeared from Mars

In the first scientific article based on data collected from Perseverance, an international research team, which includes Lund University, can map the geological evolution in a crater called Jezero. In this study, researchers can uncover new facts about how a viable lake and meander-shaped river delta have dried up.

We can see a drastic change in the humid environment. That the area has moved from the possibility of housing to the opposite. The images have given us new knowledge of the geological climate of Mars, says Sana Alomark, a geology researcher at Lund University.

With the help of advanced analysis of a selection of a total of 150,000 images, the research group formed an idea of ​​the evolution of a prehistoric lake from rumble to dry squawk. What is the cause of the drought, which began about 3.6 billion years ago, is too early to say.

– Something dangerous happened on Mars. Sana Alomark says what and when is not clear.

Searching for traces of life on the banks of rivers on Mars

It’s not just the in-depth realization that the Martian climate has changed rapidly and affected the lake and river delta system in Jezerocrat that the researchers want to highlight in the study. Another finding is that banks of fine-grained sediment are now able to locate them. In these deposits one hopes to find traces of life, called bioprints.

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– It was, of course, desirable to find actual fossils, but you have to focus on the very small things, bio-fingerprints and organic matter. And then we have to look at materials where conditions for keeping the little things are best, says Sana Alormark.

In addition to Lund University, about twenty universities and organizations have participated in the work.

Scientific material:

The roaming probe reveals an ancient delta lake system and flood sediments in Jezero craterAnd planet mars, Science .


Sana Alwmark, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geology, Lund University, [email protected]