NASA launched the Perseverance Perseverance rover into Mars' Jezero crater knowing that it could find signs of ancient life. But now, it is clearer which direction the rover should go. Scientists published a study, the first by Perservance since landing, that provides insights into how the rover can find traces of past microbes. Images and findings confirm that Jezero had once been home to a river and lake delta. Certain patches (the fine-grained material at its bottom and the boulders at its top) can be used as targets in the search.
Perseverance took images of "Kodiak", a rock outcropping at the delta's edge. This was the breakthrough moment. It was the best-preserved stratigraphy (the layering geological deposits) that Mars had ever seen, and confirmed the existence of the river delta and lake. This imagery provided the Perseverance team with a map of the area to search for months before the rover reached it.
Surprise surprise: Scarps north of Kodiak provided another surprise. The boulder-laced layers indicate that flash floods altered the river, which was otherwise relatively slow and still. Now it appears that Jezero's waterways are much more complicated than originally thought. It is likely that the lake's water levels have fluctuated over time before eventually disappearing.
Researchers will be able to save time collecting samples to return to Earth with the help of these discoveries. They may also aid scientists in understanding why Mars dried up. Perserverance, in this light, should prove useful, even though there are no clues of past life.