Some of the Martian sand is green, suggesting that there was once wet green sand on Mars. This odd situation is exactly the explanation for the latest report that academics led by a team at Purdue discovered in Perseverance photos. Actually, there is nothing too strange about it. Because even there were rivers on Mars once, it took its place in the records.
The findings, recently published in a series of papers in the journal Science and Science Advances, surprised even some scientists working on the project. From orbital observations of Perseverance's landing point, the rover's Jezero CraterIt was clear that he was going to land near some impressive stratified rocks in . The team thought they were looking at sedimentary rock, but it was volcanic rock they were looking at.
While it may seem like a minor distinction, the geologists who explored the crater considered it an important find. Sedimentary rocks eroded by water when Jezero crater and, more broadly, Mars was a much wetter area, were what scientists expected to see. Although they discovered some sedimentary rocks, most of them were deposited near the bottom of the lake, the crater floor, during that wetter age.
The igneous or lava-shaped rocks, best seen from space, were found climbing the crater's slopes. The rocks were also older than they had anticipated.
After observing them in detail with Perseverance's SuperCam, the rover's geology team realized that these rocks were more than 4 billion years old.
On Earth, rocks that old would have been weathered by our climate. But they're nearly intact on Mars, which means they're easier to study. When the scientists did this, they discovered a color they didn't expect. This color was green.
Mars is rightly known as the Red Planet – oxidation has given almost everything on the planet's surface a red hue. But upon closer inspection, these igneous rocks are actually made of a mineral called olivine. Olivine is a slightly less flamboyant version of peridot, a gemstone commonly known on Earth.
Olivine is what gives the Hawaiian beaches their dark green appearance, and it has the same effect on Mars. However, its antiquity on Mars makes it even more unique, especially as a laboratory for grasping the operations of the early solar system.
Additionally, it offers a fascinating glimpse into what early Earth would have been like when life first appeared on the planet 4 billion years ago. Our knowledge of the Earth's environment at that time was lost as climate and tectonic movements irreparably altered it over millions of years. But until Perseverance discovered it, the Martian landscape remained largely unchanged.
The first step requires only locating the rocks and performing a preliminary survey.
More extensive research is needed before anything definitive can be said about the ecology and habitability of Jezero crater earlier in the solar system. But this, along with its dedicated geology team, is one of Perseverance's top priorities. This latest discovery is a positive development.