Images in a study conducted by NASA have revealed how water helped shape the landscape of Mars billions of years ago. The study further said that this new finding could help the search for evidence of ancient life on the planet.
Earlier this year in February, NASA's Perseverance rover had landed in Jezero crater, where "scientists suspected a long-gone river once fed a lake, depositing sediment in a fan-shaped delta visible from space" reported AFP.
The rover, whose primary mission is to discover whether life may have existed on Mars, captured high-resolution images of the cliffs that were once the delta banks, which were later analysed in the study. Its formation was revealed by the layers within the cliffs.
Similarities between the cliff's features, seen from the crater floor, and the river delta patterns on Earth, were found by NASA astrobiologist Amy Williams and her team in Florida.
The study said that the bottom three layers' shape "showed a presence and steady flow of water early on", which indicated that Mars, 3.7 billion years ago, used to be "warm and humid enough to support a hydrologic cycle".
NASA is likely to sample the base layer to find signs of life, if any, on Mars. These findings will help researchers decide where to send the rover next to collect soil and rock samples "that may contain precious "biosignatures" of putative Martian life forms".
"From orbital images, we knew it had to be water that formed the delta," Williams said in a press release. "But having these images is like reading a book instead of just looking at the cover."
The rover will collect 30 rock and soil samples in sealed tubes and send them back to Earth for analysis sometime in the 2030s.
(With inputs from AFP)