NASA selects old crater as Mars 2020 rover site

NASA selects old crater as Mars 2020 rover site

In a new blog post, NASA reveals that it has chosen a site known as the Jezero Crater to be the landing area for Mars 2020.

The rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA's next step in exploration of the Red Planet.

Samples also will be taken to return to Earth.

"Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionise how we think about Mars and its ability to harbour life", added Mr Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency's science mission directorate.

The Jezero Crater can be found on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, an impact basin north of the equator.

"From the point of view of potentially habitable conditions is the most attractive area, says Ken Farley of the California Institute of technology, one of the employed scientists on Mars 2020, Delta retains the fingerprints of life".

The crater, once home to an ancient river delta, could have collected and preserved ancient organic molecules and other potential signs of microbial life from the water and sediments that flowed into the crater billions of years ago. There are at least five different types of rock present and potentially a wide variety of minerals. It will be the same type as the Atlas that has brought the successful Mars Curiosity rover to the Red Planet. An important difference is and landing system module, the Sky Crane gently lowered Curiosity on a thin rope, the Mars 2020 improved and allows you to track potentially risky objects at the landing site, moving away from them. This allowed the science community to consider more challenging landing sites.

Along with the ancient river delta, the site is also surrounded with small impact craters, boulders and rocks, cliffs, and depressions filled with aeolian bedforms that can trap a rover.

Jezero Crater's selection is still "dependent upon extensive analyses and verification testing" according to NASA, and a final report will be given to NASA HQ towards the end of 2019. The team will continue their work to study the TRN system and future risks.

The latest human-made visitor to Mars should arrive at its destination on Monday when NASA's InSight lander is set to touch down.

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