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NASA photos reveal ancient river bed on Mars where scientists hope to find proof of alien life 


New photographs released by NASA indicate that certain zones on Mars could host signs of alien life.

Geologists found vital organic compounds in specific zones of the Jezero crater which houses an ancient river delta — near where the Perseverance rover is stationed — that could hold fossilized evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Researchers, on Thursday, published photos in the Journal of Science that were taken by the Perseverance rover and indicate ways that water once flowed on the planet billions of years ago.

Perseverance captured photos of a rock formation now known as Kodiak Butte that ‘indicates … a closed lake system, under fluctuating water levels and changing styles of flow during later stages’.

Scientists say this new finding provides an ‘unprecedented datapoint’ that will guide NASA’s decisions regarding further investigation of the planet.

Newly released photos show the Jezero Crater delta region

The Perseverance rover captured photos of a rock formation now known as Kodiak Butte that 'indicates ... a closed lake system, under fluctuating water levels and changing styles of flow during later stages

The Perseverance rover captured photos of a rock formation now known as Kodiak Butte that ‘indicates … a closed lake system, under fluctuating water levels and changing styles of flow during later stages

‘The rover landed in this incredibly desolate landscape … and without driving anywhere, just taking pictures in the distance, we saw rocks that confirm Jezero was the bottom of the lake millions of years ago,’ Benjamin Weiss, a professor of planetary sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told United Press International.  

The newly released Kodiak Butte photographs show layers of fine clay or sand that allegedly build up during periods of normal river flow. 

‘By understanding the stratigraphy at Kodiak, it enables us to identify the deposits which are the most likely of interest for life preservation,’ Nicolas Mangold, a geologist at the University of Nantes in France, told CNET.

‘We know that water was running on the surface at one point in the past, but we don’t know the duration of this activity.’ 

The area was also interspersed with layers of small boulders that result from flood events.

The Kodiak Butte was interspersed with layers of small boulders that result from flood events

The Kodiak Butte was interspersed with layers of small boulders that result from flood events

While it is unknown what caused the floods eons ago, scientists hypothesize they may have resulted from heavy rain or a sudden ice melt

While it is unknown what caused the floods eons ago, scientists hypothesize they may have resulted from heavy rain or a sudden ice melt

While it is unknown what caused the floods eons ago, scientists hypothesize they may have resulted from heavy rain or a sudden ice melt. 

‘Mars, at the time, probably had more ice, which could have melted suddenly by volcanic activity or meteor impacts, sending a rush of water, rocks and silt into the crater,’ Weiss shared. 

‘The region around the crater also was of high interest for a rover mission because it contains the oldest known rocks on Mars. Now, we can sample those rocks also, without even leaving the crater.’

Unfortunately, Perseverance did not catch clear images of the area so researchers will need to continue investigating. 

‘Despite our disappointment, we tried to look at the delta from a distance using our best cameras, and that gave really wonderful results,’ Mangold explained. 

Scientists argued that the Jezero findings will help researchers learn more about other craters that may have previously held lakes — and potentially other forms of life.

The region around the crater was of high interest for a rover mission because it contains the oldest known rocks on Mars

The region around the crater was of high interest for a rover mission because it contains the oldest known rocks on Mars

Scientists expect that NASA will drill samples from the newly discovered craters

Scientists expect that NASA will drill samples from the newly discovered craters

‘We now have these pictures that we really couldn’t get from orbit, showing these boulders and conglomerate deposits that could only come from flood episodes,’ said study co-author Amy Williams, an assistant professor of geological sciences and astrobiology at University of Florida. 

‘Seeing Jezero from spacecraft in orbit is like looking at the cover of a book. What we see now is like reading the pages in the book.’  

Weiss and Williams expect that NASA will drill samples from the newly discovered craters.

‘We have complete confidence that we’ll be able to sample clay or a mudstone or shale,’ Williams said.

‘It seems like there was something rather [unusual] about our first core that we’re still trying to understand, but we’ve tested the drilling on Earth, and it was successful in a variety of environments.’

Mangold added that the findings have helped them identify locations on the main delta where experts can access similar environments.

‘Those locations are some of our preferred targets for future rover travels,’ he said.

The findings have helped researchers identify locations on the main delta where experts can access similar environments

The findings have helped researchers identify locations on the main delta where experts can access similar environments

Scientists say this new finding provides an 'unprecedented datapoint' that will guide NASA's decisions regarding further investigation of the planet

Scientists say this new finding provides an ‘unprecedented datapoint’ that will guide NASA’s decisions regarding further investigation of the planet



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