There is some exciting news about space exploration! Today, the Perseverance rover will land on the Jezero Crater on Mars. Once there, it will examine the area and collect rock samples to send back to Earth.
The #CountdownToMars is on! We can hardly believe that the @NASAPersevere rover is just ONE day from touching down in Jezero Crater. 🎉— NASA Earth (@NASAEarth) February 17, 2021
No one has set foot in the crater, but we have some ideas of what to expect thanks to Lake Salda in #Turkey. 🚀 https://t.co/x2MdicoEmX pic.twitter.com/2EpqAZctDn
But did you know that we already have an idea of what the Jezero Crater might look like? This is because of a lake in Turkey called Salda that has a similar landscape.
The two basins have similar mineralogy and geology, containing the same types of carbonate minerals and depositional features. In fact, Jezero Crater is believed to once also have been a lake.
In the summer of 2019, Briony Horgan, a planetary scientist at Purdue University and member of the Perseverance science team, and colleagues from the Istanbul Technical University visited Lake Salda to study it in order to help guide the search for life at Jezero. What they found were sediments of different origins including the carbonate mineral hydromagnesite.
They also spotted hydromagnesite sediments around Lake Salda that are believed to have eroded from large mounds called “microbialites" (rocks formed with the help of microbes). If these are also found on the Jezero Crater they could indicate signs of a past life.
Finally, Lake Salda is the resting spot of alluvial fans full of rock deposits eroded and washed down from the surrounding bedrock. This discovery can help the Perseverance team understand more about the depositional processes at Jezero.
Who would have thought that a small lake in Turkey could have such far-reaching implications?