The Mars Perseverance Rover has been probing Mars’ 30-mile-wide Jezero crater. In the journal Science Advances, a research team’s data reveals that rock layers beneath the crater’s floor, observed by the rover’s ground-penetrating radar, are unexpectedly inclined, suggesting they were formed by slowly cooling lava or deposited as sediments in the former lake.
The scientists expected to see horizontal rocks on the crater floor. The fact that the deposits are tilted belies a more complex geologic history than previously believed. The layers may have formed when molten rock rose towards the surface, or it may represent an older delta deposit buried in the crater floor.
Evidence gathered by the rover so far points to an igneous, or molten, origin, but it is uncertain how the inclined layers formed.
The data collected will provide valuable context to rock samples Perseverance is collecting, which will eventually be brought to Earth. The paper, “Ground penetrating radar observations of subsurface structures in the floor of Jezero crater, Mars,” is one of three simultaneously published papers discussing some of the first data from Perseverance.