09The confirmation of the existence of an icy lake that filled the Jezero crater on Mars, in a distant past of enormous floods, and having verified that a volcanic eruption about 2 billion years ago changed the landscape of the Moon, strongly modify the conceptions established on the history of the red planet and our natural satellite. These are just some of the discoveries that in the coming years promise to shed light on the hidden history of Mars and the Moon.
According to a Article Published in Scientific American, new results from the mission that took NASA’s Perseverance rover to Mars reveal that Jezero crater has a dynamic hydrological history, absolutely hidden so far. According to the scientists’ conclusions, Martian history would not oscillate between two totally opposite periods as we think until today.
Abrupt changes and large floods
Mars it did not have a past full of water and idyllic landscapes of lakes and rivers that abruptly led to the desert we know today. Like the Earth, it went through periods of permanent change and complex stages that cannot be explained by contrasting two dichotomous moments.
Now, analysis of the data provided by the Perseverance rover shows that around 3.6 billion years ago a river flowed into the Jezero crater region, at speeds of several meters per second. Water fed a lake that filled the crater, 45 kilometers wide and up to depths of 100 meters in some sectors.
According to specialists, the area was home to an old river delta and a system of lakes nourished by the Water, which flowed violently and even dragged rocks and other debris over great distances. These were sudden changes caused by heavy flooding, whose origin cannot yet be confirmed.
It is extreme phenomenon caused craters, canyons, and other landforms to be carved with unusual rapidity on Mars: instead of tens or hundreds of thousands of years, they would have been created in weeks, months, or perhaps a few years.
On the other hand, the researchers believe that the region has sediments in an excellent state of conservation that, in the future, could be one of the best locations for look for evidence of past life on Mars.
Related topic: Almost invisible crater tracks discovered on the Moon.Related topic: Almost invisible crater tracks discovered on the Moon.
The volcanic moon
While, moon rock samples provided by China’s Chang’e 5 probe show that lava flowed on the Moon approximately 2 billion years ago. As explained in a release, the first samples from our satellite to return to Earth in more than 40 years would indicate that volcanism existed on the Moon for much longer than thought until today.
The Chinese mission brought almost 2 kilograms of rocks and dust from the area known as Ocean of Storms, or the Ocean of Storms, which was formed from solidified lava after an ancient volcanic eruption. Everything indicates that the presence of heat-producing elements, such as potassium, thorium and uranium, could have favored a prolonged magmatic activity in that sector of the Moon.
However, alternative explanations for the longevity of lunar magmatism are still required: in other words, the researchers will seek to determine in the future how and why the Moon kept its active volcanoes longer, in addition to discovering the impact of this phenomenon on the geological history of the satellite.
Perseverance rover reveals an ancient delta-lake system and flood deposits at Jezero crater, Mars. N. Mangold et al. Science (2021).DOI:https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abl4051
Age and composition of young basalts on the Moon, measured from samples returned by Chang’e-5. Xiaochao Che et al. Science (2021).DOI:https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abl7957
Cover photo: image of Chang’e 5’s landing site on the Moon. Credit: CNSA Center for Space Engineering and Lunar Exploration.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.