An investigation published this August 25 in Science Advancesdocument the discovery in the Jezero Crater on Mars of the unique ways in which rock vaporization lasers and ground penetrating radar from perseverance they established that igneous rocks cover the crater floor.
These are volcanic rocks that have crystals that reveal the time of composition they have, but also suggest their past “when they were grazed by water.”
NASA expected to find sedimentary rock because the crater contained a lake billions of years ago. This would have formed when sand and mud settled in a once watery environment. Instead, they found that the soil was made of two types of igneous rock: one that formed from volcanic activity on the surface, and the other that originated from magma deep underground.
“A great value of the igneous rocks we collect is that they will tell us about when the lake was present at Jezero. We know it was there more recently than the igneous crater floor rocks formed,” said Caltech’s Ken Farley, Perseverance project scientist and lead author of the first of the new papers. Science. “This will address some important questions: When was the climate on Mars conducive to lakes and rivers on the planet’s surface, and when did it change to the very cold and dry conditions we see today?”
A long-standing mystery on Mars is solved in a second paper published in Science. Mars orbiters detected a rock formation filled with the mineral olivine years ago. Measuring approximately 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers), almost the size of South Carolina, this formation extends from the inner rim of Jezero Crater to the surrounding region.
Scientists have offered various theories as to why olivine is so abundant over such a large surface area. These include meteorite impacts, volcanic eruptions, and sedimentary processes. Another theory is that olivine formed deep underground from the slow cooling of magma (molten rock) before being exposed over time by erosion.