NASA announces Mars 2020 rover landing site

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 20, 2018

That touchdown is due to come seven months after the mission's launch in mid-July 2020. In addition, the material carried into the delta from a large watershed may contain a wide variety of minerals from inside and outside the crater.

The space agency announced its choice for the Mars 2020 mission landing site Monday and it's quite a crater.

At this stage, NASA is unsure how it's going to get any samples collected by the new rover from the Red Planet back to earth, although I think we can safely assume that the human outpost on the moon might have some part in it.

Once the samples are cached, Nasa hopes to send follow-up missions to retrieve the samples and return them to Earth.

The geologic diversity that makes Jezero so appealing to Mars 2020 scientists also makes it a challenge for the team's entry, descent and landing (EDL) engineers. 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.

Jezero Crater is a more treacherous environment than the kinds Nasa usually lands in.

The sites of greatest scientific interest led NASA to add a new capability called Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN).

The landing site of Jezero Crater is different because of its abundant carbonate rocks and what they can hopefully reveal about early habitability on Mars, NASA said. A final report will be presented to an independent review board and NASA Headquarters in the fall of 2019.

"Because there are so many ancient rocks on the surface of Mars, this information is more accessible", said Meyer.

"Where to land on Mars is by no means a random choice: a vast amount of thought and debate has gone into this decision", said Dr Duncan Steel, of the Centre for Space Science Technology in Alexandra.

Jezero Crater, whose name comes from the Serbian word for lake, won out over three other finalist sites near the Martian equator: Midway and Northeast Syrtis, plus Columbia Hills (which is where NASA's Spirit rover roamed a decade ago). Each type of rock at the site - from clays that could preserve signs of ancient organisms to volcanic rocks that hint at Mars's planetary evolution - should help the rover achieve its two main science goals. Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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