NASA’s Perseverance Rover and China’s Zhurong rover have found signs of soaked sands and raging rivers on the red planet. China’s rover has found evidence that frost may have consolidated the sands as recently as 400,000 years ago. NASA’s Endurance has found signs that a fast, powerful water channel once carved into the Jezero estuary, dumping water at breakneck speeds, according to a National Geographic report.
The findings were published in Advances in Science. Zhurong landed on Mars in May 2021 after it failed to wake up after a planned hibernation period, likely due to dust accumulation on its solar panels.
NASA’s Perseverance found the largest river on Mars. The river is more than 66 feet deep in some places based on the height of the rock formations. Scientists believe these are preserved sandbars.
Jani Radebaugh, a researcher at Brigham Young University in Utah said both findings “underscore the fact that it’s really important to put things on the surface of other planets.”
Chinese rover discovers signs of water on Martian surface. The sands near the rover have developed a crust that likely formed as water interacted with minerals. That water may have come from frosts that formed on the sands in the past, or it may have fallen as snow hundreds of thousands of years ago when the tilt of the planet may have allowed snowfall in the region. it, Nat Geo reported.
Crusts suggest polygonal features that shrink and expand over time. “The presence of these types of contraction and expansion features suggests that there is relatively recent or modern or ongoing wetting and drying occurring in these dune regions.
Ralph Milliken, a planetary scientist at Brown University and a member of NASA’s Mars Curiosity mission told Nat Geo that Mars’ dust is enriched with minerals that can absorb water vapor from the air. If that material covers sand dunes, changes in humidity throughout the season can cause the dust to absorb water vapor and release it again without turning it into a liquid.
“These are likely things that form in many different places on Mars,” Milliken said. “This could be a process that could have occurred over a large part of the planet in the recent geologic past.”
While the Chinese rover investigated dune erosion, Perseverance explored the remains of a powerful current.
The NASA rover has shown evidence that the ancient rivers that once flowed across the planet ran deeper, and flowed faster than researchers thought. The river is part of a network of waterways that flow into Jezero Crater. Interestingly, this is the area the rover has been exploring since landing more than two years ago in hopes of eventually finding signs of ancient microbial life.
‘That indicates a high-energy river that’s truckin’ and carrying a lot of debris. The stronger the water flow, the easier it is to move large pieces of material. It’s exciting to look at rocks on another planet and see processes that are so familiar,” said Libby Ives, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a NASA release.
For two years, Perseverance probed the top of an 820-foot-tall pile of sedimentary rock that is 820 feet (250 meters) high and features curving layers that indicate flowing water. A location within the curvilinear unit, nicknamed ”Sprinkle Haven,” was captured in one of Mastcam-Z’s new mosaics.