Published: Thu, November 22, 2018
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

NASA chooses next Mars landing site set to ‘REVOLUTIONISE’ knowledge of planet

NASA chooses next Mars landing site set to ‘REVOLUTIONISE’ knowledge of planet

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, the USA space agency said in a statement.

The Mars 2020 rover mission will be looking signs of past microbial life and collect samples of rocks that will be retrieved by future explorers.

NASA is the only space agency to have successfully carried out mission on Mars.

The site offers a "geologically rich terrain" featuring landforms that date back billions of years.

"Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionise how we think about Mars and its ability to harbour life", he added.

NASA officially announces landing site of Mars 2020 rover, and it’s incredibly interesting

The Jezero Crater is located on the western edge of a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator.

"The delta is a good place for evidence of life to be deposited and then preserved for the billions of years that have elapsed since this lake was present", Mars 2020 project scientist Ken Farley said during a press conference.
Scientists believe that water flowed in the 28-mile wide crater billions of years ago. Here in Jezero Crater delta, sediments contain clays and carbonates. With a little luck, NASA's rover could obtain samples from rocks in the region that still retain "signatures of past life". Scientists have considered landing previous rovers on the site, but its landscape was not ideal. NASA assured that mission engineers have reduced the landing zone of Mars 2020 to 50 percent smaller than Curiosity's in 2012 at Gale Crater.

Choosing a landing site this early permits the rover drivers and science tasks group to upgrade their plans for investigating Jezero Crater once the rover is securely on the ground.

For NASA's InSight spacecraft, it all comes down to the final six minutes of a six-month journey to Mars.

The site selection is dependent upon extensive analyses and verification testing of the TRN capability. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

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