Fluvial Regimes, Morphometry, and Age of Jezero Crater Paleolake Inlet Valleys and Their Exobiological Significance for the 2020 Rover Mission Landing Site
Jezero crater has been selected as the landing site for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, because it contains a paleolake with two fan-deltas, inlet and outlet valleys. Using the data from the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) and the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), we conducted a quantitative geomorphological study of the inlet valleys of the Jezero paleolake. Results show that the strongest erosion is related to a network of deep valleys that cut into the highland bedrock well upstream of the Jezero crater and likely formed before the formation of the regional olivine-rich unit. In contrast, the lower sections of valleys display poor bedrock erosion and a lack of tributaries but are characterized by the presence of pristine landforms interpreted as fluvial bars from preserved channels, the discharge rates of which have been estimated at 103-104 m3s-1. The valleys' lower sections postdate the olivine-rich unit, are linked directly to the fan-deltas, and are thus formed in an energetic, late stage of activity. Although a Late Noachian age for the fan-deltas' formation is not excluded based on crosscutting relationships and crater counts, this indicates evidence of a Hesperian age with significant implications for exobiology.