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 45-kilometre-wide crater has a "geologically rich terrain" that is ideal for analysing the planet's surface as well as investigating "signs of ancient habitable conditions", the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.
Even though the Red Planet is now cold and dry, the landing site, Jezero Crater, was filled with a 1,600-foot (500-meter) deep lake that opened to a network of rivers some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago.
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. It is a revised version of the rover Curiosity, which arrived on the Red Planet in 2012.
Artist concept of the Mars 2020 rover.
Before making the final selection, NASA scrutinised more than 60 candidate locations across the planet and considered a number of factors, including the safety of the rover and its ability to travel.
"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". A separate mission, yet to be defined, would bring the rocks back to Earth.
"Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionise how we think about Mars and its ability to harbour life", he added.
"Nothing has been more hard in robotic planetary exploration than landing on Mars", said Zurbuchen. NASA plans to send a rover there to see if any traces of life remain. According to the orbital data, here you can find the exits to the surface is extremely ancient rocks, important for understanding the geological history of Mars.