On April 13th, following 31 days and 3 miles of travel, NASA’s Perseverance Rover arrived at an extinct river delta at the bottom of Jezero Crater as part of its search for ancient microbial life.
Top of the rover scientists’ wish list, the fine sediments should be an ideal place to drill for signs of organic life. On Earth, deltas such as those of the Mississippi, or the Okavango rivers, teem with the richest levels of biodiversity found in any part of their ecosystems.
Even the clearest rivers move sediment downward towards their terminus, and all those fine grains of soil and sand build up in a delta, which are also excellent places to look for prehistoric fossils.
On Mars, the Jezero delta is a massive fan-shaped area of rocks and sediment on the western edge of the crater, formed at the convergence of a Martian river and a crater lake billions of years ago.
“The delta at Jezero Crater promises to be a veritable geologic feast and one of the best locations on Mars to look for signs of past microscopic life,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “The answers are out there – and Team Perseverance is ready to find them”.