Jezero Crater was chosen after a 5-yr search of over 60 possible locations on MarsNASA has chosen a 3.6 billion-year-old crater as the landing site for its unmanned Mars 2020 rover mission to seek signs of past life on the Red Planet, the U.S. space agency said Monday.
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 will collect rock and soil samples that will likely be retrieved by the future Mars missions and sent to Earth.
At least five different kinds of rocks, including "clays and carbonates that have high potential to preserve signatures of past life", are believed to lie in the crater, just north of the Martian equator, the United States space agency said in a statement.
The material carried into the delta from a large watershed may contain a wide variety of minerals from inside and outside the crater.
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The crater is made of numerous boulders and rocks to the east, cliffs to the west and depressions filled with aeolian bedforms, which are wind-derived ripples in sand that could trap a rover, in several locations, NASA explained.
The body design of Mars 2020 rover is based heavily on the Curiosity rover that arrived on Mars in August 2012 and has been exploring Gale Crater since then.
An artist's illustration of a rover landing in Mars. This allowed the science community to consider more challenging landing sites.
NASA's still unnamed Mars 2020 rover will land in Jezero Crater where, scientists believe, a river delta was once located. TRN will enable the "sky crane" descent stage, the rocket-powered system that carries the rover down to the surface, to avoid hazardous areas.
"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.
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CA - MAY 03: The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas-V rocket is seen with NASA's InSight spacecraft onboard, Thursday, May 3, 2018, at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.