Estimated Minimum Life Span of the Jezero Fluvial Delta (Mars)

Research areas:
Year:
2020
Authors:
Journal:
Astrobiology
Note:
PMID: 32434374
Abstract:
The paleo-lake floor at the edge of the Jezero delta has been selected as the NASA 2020 rover landing site. In this article, we demonstrate the sequences of lake filling and delta formation and constrain the minimum life span of the Jezero paleo-lake from sedimentological and hydrological analyses. Two main phases of delta evolution can be recognized by utilizing imagery provided by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) and High Resolution Stereo Camera (ESA Mars Express): (1) basin infilling before the breaching of the Jezero rim and (2) the delta formation itself. Our results suggest that delta formation occurred over a minimum period of 90–550 years of hydrological activity. Breaching of the Jezero rim occurred in at least three distinct episodes, which spanned a far longer time-period than overall delta formation. This evolutionary history implies that the Jezero-lake floor would have been a haven for fine-grained sediment accumulation and hosted an active environment of significant astrobiological importance.