NASA’s Perseverance rover has made a groundbreaking discovery on Mars, confirming the presence of ancient lake sediments in Jezero Crater. This revelation stems from the analysis of data gathered through ground-penetrating radar observations conducted by the rover. The findings align with earlier orbital imagery and scientific theories suggesting that certain areas of Mars were once submerged in water, potentially fostering microbial life. The study, led by teams from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Oslo, was published in the journal Science Advances.

Throughout 2022, the car-sized rover traversed the Martian surface, capturing subsurface scans with its RIMFAX radar instrument. These scans, akin to a cross-sectional view of rock layers up to 65 feet (20 meters) deep, revealed unmistakable evidence of soil sediments deposited by water at Jezero Crater and its delta, resembling Earth’s river deltas. The findings support the idea that Mars, currently cold and lifeless, once had a warmer and wetter environment. Scientists eagerly anticipate a closer examination of Jezero’s sediments, estimated to have formed around 3 billion years ago, using samples collected by Perseverance for future transport to Earth. Earlier core samples from Perseverance, drilled near its February 2021 landing site, revealed unexpected volcanic rocks rather than the anticipated sedimentary ones. Despite this surprise, both studies complement each other, with even the volcanic rocks showing signs of water-induced alteration. Recent RIMFAX radar findings indicate pre- and post-formation erosion of sedimentary layers, shedding light on Jezero Crater’s complex geological history. This newfound information bolsters scientists’ confidence in their chosen Mars exploration location, representing a crucial stride in uncovering the mysteries of the Red Planet.