Published: Thu, November 22, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

NASA Selects Martian Lake-Delta System For Landing Of Mars 2020 Rover

NASA Selects Martian Lake-Delta System For Landing Of Mars 2020 Rover

Now he has received the official approval of the NASA team working on the Mars mission 2020: the crater, Jezero relatively smooth rounded funnel at the bottom of a deep (250 meters) from the ancient lakes in the Delta have long dried up Martian river.

In a conference call with the media, NASA's Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said that he has chosen the 28-mile- (45-kilometer) wide Jezero Crater and the mission is scheduled to launch in 2020.

The North American Space Agency says it will launch the uncrewed robot, about the size of a vehicle, in July 2020 to explore the Red Planet. The rover which is expected to land on February 18, 2021 will search for ancient life as well as collect soil samples from the Red Planet.

The site offers a "geologically rich terrain" featuring landforms that date back billions of years. "Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life".

Jezero Crater is located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, which is a huge basin north of the Martian equator that was formed by an asteroid impact some 3.9 billion years ago.

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"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". From the Jezero Crater, NASA hopes to obtain samples of at least five different kinds of rocks, including clays and carbonates that can preserve signatures of life. Scientists have considered landing previous rovers on the site, but its landscape was not ideal. Along with the massive nearby river delta and small crater impacts, the site contains numerous boulders and rocks to the east, cliffs to the west, and depressions filled with aeolian bedforms (wind-derived ripples in sand that could trap a rover) in several locations.

There are various factors that NASA needed to consider while choosing an arrival site.

On November 26, NASA's Mars InSight lander will touch down on the Red Planet. "The team will continue their work to truly understand the TRN system and the risks involved, and we will review the findings independently to reassure we have maximized our chances for success". If life ever existed (or still exists) on Mars, the Jezero Crater is simply the best place to start looking for proof of it - for now.

The Mars 2020 Project at JPL manages rover development for SMD.

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