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Unearthing Mars' watery past: NASA's Perseverance Rover reveals signs of ancient river flow

NASA's Perseverance Rover unveils signs of ancient water flow on Mars, sparks excitement about the planet's watery past and potential for life.

Updated on: Dec 28 2023, 17:26 IST
NASA's Perseverance Rover unveils Mars' watery past, hinting at ancient rivers. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)
NASA's Perseverance Rover unveils Mars' watery past, hinting at ancient rivers. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

In a remarkable discovery, NASA's Perseverance Rover has uncovered compelling evidence pointing to a history of flowing water on Mars, reigniting the tantalising possibility that the red planet once cradled rivers and oceans. While the definitive quest for signs of extraterrestrial life on Mars continues, scientists are increasingly embracing the notion that Mars was once a wet world, potentially fostering conditions suitable for life millions of years ago.

'Castell Henllys' in Jezero Crater

A recently released image, captured by Perseverance's Mastcam-Z camera, showcases an intriguing assemblage of rocks and pebbles scattered across Mars' Jezero Crater. The specific location, dubbed 'Castell Henllys,' provides a glimpse into the distant past, revealing rocks and pebbles transported by formidable floodwaters billions of years ago.

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Astrobiology's Quest

Key objectives of the Perseverance mission include ventures into Astrobiology, seeking conclusive evidence of life beyond our own planet. While the image doesn't depict antenna-bearing aliens reminiscent of popular media, the potential discovery of microorganisms or their fossilised remnants on Mars would constitute a groundbreaking revelation.

Simultaneously, the rover diligently collects pristine samples from the Martian surface, with NASA intending to scrutinise these rocks and soils up close. The space agency envisions future collaborative missions with the European Space Agency (ESA) to send spacecraft to Mars, retrieve these sealed samples, and bring them back to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The quest for water on distant planets finds its rationale in Earth's own history. After an initial lifeless phase, our planet saw the emergence of life in the form of microorganisms in water, eventually leading to the development of complex aquatic organisms. Scientists posit that the evolution of land-dwelling animals and plants followed suit.

The correlation between the presence of water and the potential for life extends beyond Mars, with one of the favoured targets for the search being Europa, Jupiter's moon. Europa, shrouded in ice, may harbour a vast liquid ocean beneath its frozen surface, sparking speculation that it might be a haven for extraterrestrial life.

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First Published Date: 28 Dec, 16:19 IST


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