PIA26207: Water Enters Jezero Crater Billions of Years Ago (Artist's Concept)
 Target Name:  Mars
 Is a satellite of:  Sol (our sun)
 Mission:  Mars 2020 Rover
 Product Size:  1580 x 882 pixels (w x h)
 Produced By:  JPL
 Full-Res TIFF:  PIA26207.tif (3.389 MB)
 Full-Res JPEG:  PIA26207.jpg (145.7 kB)

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This animated artist's concept depicts a scene of water breaking through the rim of Mars' Jezero Crater, which NASA's Perseverance rover is now exploring. Water entered the crater billions of years ago, depositing sediments that built up into a delta.

Since the spacecraft's landing in February 2021, Perseverance's exploration of the crater floor and the delta have led to scientists developing a detailed timeline for the crater's formation. They now know there were three major periods after water began flooding through the crater rim.

First, those waters brought fine-grained sand and mud (seen by Perseverance at "Hogwallow Flats") that is known for preserving fossilized life in comparable environments on Earth. Second, the crater's lake grew as wide as 22 miles (35 kilometers) in diameter and as deep as 100 feet (30 meters) – deep enough to lay down several sedimentary layers (like those seen at "Pinestand"). Finally, high-energy rivers brought in boulders that were rounded as they tumbled through water, as seen at "Castell Henllys."

A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA's Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance: mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

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