NASA Picks Ancient Martian River Delta for 2020 Rover Touchdown


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.

NASA has chosen Jezero Crater delta, where the sediments contain clays and carbonates, as the landing site for its upcoming Mars 2020 Rover mission, the United States space agency said.

The Rover mission is scheduled to launch in July 2020 as NASA's next step in exploration of the Red Planet.

Jezero Crater is thought to be the site of an ancient river delta on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator.

The landing site selection came after years of research and days of fierce debate over the best spot to look for evidence of ancient life on an alien world.

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.

Asesinan en bar a portero de la Liga de Honduras
Uno de ellos sacó un arma que terminó con la vida del portero y de uno de sus acompañantes. Hasta el momento aún no hay detenidos y la investigación continúa abierta.

"Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said in a news release.

The 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater will give the Mars 2020 mission an opportunity to study a lot of loose rock material, but water was also on NASA's mind when it picked the landing site. "The reality, even the scientists acknowledge, is that the most interesting places on Mars - say, at the foot of steep scarps where water is seen to be seeping out from underground - are simply too risky to attempt a landing". "But what was once out of reach is now conceivable, thanks to the 2020 engineering team and advances in Mars entry, descent and landing technologies", he said.

There are various factors that NASA needed to consider while choosing an arrival site.

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

"The delta is a good place for evidence of life to be deposited and then preserved for the billions of years that have elapsed since this lake was present", Ken Farley, Mars 2020 project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told reporters on a conference call.

Jezero Crater had been intensely surveyed from orbit, however, and there seemed to be enough flat areas to make landing and deploying a rover there possible.