Rock & Gem

The Latest from a Martian Delta


Recent images from the Mars rover, Perseveran­ce, prove that now cold, arid Mars was once far warmer and water-rich and not so different than Earth, and even suggest the potential for primitive life.

The title of a Science article says it all: “Perseveran­ce rover reveals an ancient delta-like system and flood deposits at Jezero crater, Mars.” While earlier observatio­ns from spacecraft orbiting Mars showed fan-shaped deposits at the western margin of the Jezero crater, the up-close observatio­ns of Perseveran­ce leave no doubt about the sedimentar­y nature of rock deposits on the surface. Photos show inclined strata that suggest deltas emptying into a huge lake and other conglomera­te strata rich in boulders, cobbles and pebbles that are evidence of past floods from rivers feeding into that lake.

Of course, this occurred some 3.6 to 3.8 billion years ago, so don’t break out your kayak for a river-rafting adventure on our now cold and hyper-arid sister planet!

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