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Perseverance images confirm Mars crater is an ancient lake

The first scientific analysis of the images also reveals evidence that the crater endured flash floods.

dd6392b0-621c-47cb-8a73-1e0cc0d89cec Source: Nasa/PA Images

IMAGES TAKEN BY Nasa’s Perseverance rover confirm Mars’ Jezero crater was once a quiet lake, fed steadily by a small river some 3.7 billion years ago.

The study shows how much water flowed into the crater – which today is a dry, wind-eroded depression – and indicates where the rover could search for signs of life.

The first scientific analysis of the images also reveals evidence that the crater endured flash floods.

This flooding was energetic enough to sweep up large boulders from tens of miles upstream and deposit them into the lake-bed, where the massive rocks still lie today.

Researchers based their findings on images of the rocks inside the crater on its western side.

Satellites had previously shown that this outcrop – when seen from above – resembled river deltas on Earth, where layers of sediment are deposited in the shape of a fan as the river feeds into a lake.

Taken from inside the crater, the new images confirm this outcrop was indeed a river delta.

According to the study, the lake was calm for much of its existence, until a dramatic shift in climate triggered episodic flooding at or toward the end of the lake’s history.

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2.58240418 The Mars Perseverance rover moments before it touched down on the planet. Source: PA Images

Benjamin Weiss, professor of planetary sciences in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) department of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, was a member of the analysis team.

He said: “If you look at these images, you’re basically staring at this epic desert landscape. It’s the most forlorn place you could ever visit.

“There’s not a drop of water anywhere, and yet, here we have evidence of a very different past.

“Something very profound happened in the planet’s history.”

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