Published: Thu, November 22, 2018
Sci-tech | By April Francis

NASA Selects Jezero Crater Landing Site for Mars 2020 Rover

NASA Selects Jezero Crater Landing Site for Mars 2020 Rover

NASA has picked an ancient river delta as the landing site for its uncrewed Mars 2020 rover, to hunt for evidence of past life on Earth's neighboring planet, officials said Monday.

It's been many years in the making, but NASA's Mars 2020 rover mission is now in the home stretch.

The $2.5 billion (roughly Rs. 17,800 crores) rover is planned to launch in July 2020, and land in February 2021.

NASA's 2020 Mars rover mission will try to search for signs of past microbial life and habitable conditions on the Red Planet.

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

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

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. Western Isidis presents some of the oldest and most scientifically interesting landscapes Mars has to offer. Scientists say the site is ideal because of its terrain with landforms dating from as far as long as 3.6 billion years ago. It may have been collected and stored through water and sediments, former organic molecules and other indications of microbiological life in the crater. According to NASA, the Jezero Crater was once a river delta.

The technology: The geologic diversity that makes Jezero such an appealing landing site also makes landing there a huge technical challenge for engineers.

In addition, 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. It will be the same type as the Atlas that has brought the successful Mars Curiosity rover to the Red Planet.

NASA revealed that there has always been an interest to explore Jezero Crater. This allowed the science community to consider more challenging landing sites. The team will continue their work to study the TRN system and future risks.

Zurbuchen believes that his Mars 2020 engineering team has worked very hard to ensure a safe landing on the crater.

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