Ancient Mars crater chosen as landing site for 2020 space rover
22 November, 2018, 09:10 | Author: Tara Reeves
The unmanned probe has to leave Cape Canaveral in Florida in July 2020 with an Atlas-V launcher.
Its Mars 2020 mission will "seek signs of ancient habitable conditions and past microbial life" as well as collecting samples which will be left in a cache on the Martian surface.
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 revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbour life'.
Why Jezero Crater? The 28-mile-wide crater, which used to be the site of a river delta, is in an area that includes some of Mars's oldest and most scientifically significant landscapes. Scientists also believe that the crater could have preserved ancient organic molecules from the water that flowed at this site billions of years ago. Here in Jezero Crater delta, sediments contain clays and carbonates.
The technology: The geologic diversity that makes Jezero such an appealing landing site also makes landing there a huge technical challenge for engineers. A huge river delta surrounds the crater and stretches for many miles in several directions.
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.
NASA revealed that there has always been an interest to explore Jezero Crater.
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.
"Mars is one of four terrestrial planets in the solar system and it actually has the best record of what was going on in the first billion years of planetary formation", said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. The team will continue their work to study the TRN system and future risks.
Selecting a landing site this early allows the rover drivers and science operations team to optimize their plans for exploring Jezero Crater once the rover is safely on the ground. NASA's Launch Services Program, based at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.
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