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Study finds river delta on Mars; probable sign for ancient life

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Paris: A study has analysed images from Mars to reveal how water helped shape the planet's landscape billions of years ago, providing clues that may guide evidence of ancient life, Agence France-Presse reported.

NASA's Perseverance rover landed in February in Jezero crater. Scientists suspected an ancient river once fed a lake, depositing sediment to form a fan-shaped delta visible from space. The study subjected high-resolution pictures took by Perseverance. Layers within the cliffs of the delta reveal how it was created. Amy Williams, NASA astrobiologist, and her team found that the features of the cliffs are similar to Earth's river-deltas.

The shape of the bottom three layers showed the presence and steady flow of water in the past. This indicates Mars was "warm and humid enough to support a hydrologic cycle" around 3.7 billion years ago, the study inferred.

The top and most recent layers have boulders scattered and are more than one meter in diameter. They could be the result of violent flooding.

The fine-grained base level would be targeted to collect samples for signs of long-extinct life on Mars.

The fresh findings will help researchers decide where to send the rover for samples to get biosignatures that signal life.

The primary mission for Perseverance is to find out whether life may have existed in the Red Planet. The project took decades and cost billions of dollars. The multitasking rover is to spend time on Mars till 2030 and collect 30 samples in sealed tubes. Last month, it collected two rock samples that showed signs they were in contact with groundwater for a long period.

The rover is equipped with 19 Cameras, a two-meter-long robotic arm, two microphones and a suite of cutting-edge instruments. One of the instruments can laser-zap rocks from a distance to study their chemical composition.

The rover is about the size of an SUV. It will cross the delta, then the ancient lakeshore and finally explore the edges of the Jezero crater.

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TAGS:Space Mars Science Updates 
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