Jan. 26 (UPI) -- New research published Friday offers hope that the sediment samples picked up by the Mars rover Perseverance could reveal traces of life -- if it ever existed on the Red Planet.
The rover already has confirmed an ancient lake on Mars.
The new research published in Science Advances shows the Jezero Crater, where Perseverance verified lake sediments, is theorized to have been filled with water that deposited layers of sediments on the crater floor.
"The delta deposits in Jezero Crater contain sedimentary records of potentially habitable conditions on Mars," the research article's abstract stated. "NASA's Perseverance rover is exploring the Jezero western delta with a suite of instruments that include the RIMFAX ground penetrating radar, which provides continuous subsurface images that probe up to 20 meters below the rover."
The research by UCLA and the University of Oslo shows the lake subsequently shrank and the sediments carried by a river formed a large delta.
"From orbit we can see a bunch of different deposits, but we can't tell for sure if what we're seeing is their original state, or if we're seeing the conclusion of a long geological story," said paper author and UCLA professor David Paige. "To tell how these things formed, we need to see below the surface."
The radar images revealed sediments shaped like lake deposits on Earth. Their existence was confirmed by the new research.
According to Paige, the changes seen in the rock record come from large-scale changes in the Martian environment. He said there's a lot of evidence of that change in a small geographic area and that allows scientists to "extend our findings to the scale of the entire crater."