NASA will be sending another rover to Mars in 2020 and the space agency has now confirmed where it’s going to land the machine. The Jezero Crater has been chosen as the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover. It has been selected as the landing spot after a five year search during which every detail of more than 60 possible locations was scrutinized and debated by the mission team and the planetary science community. NASA says that this landing site is going to set the stage for the next decade of Mars exploration.
The rover mission is the next step in NASA’s exploration of the Red Planet. Scheduled to launch in July 2020, it aims to discover signs of ancient habitable conditions and any past microbial life.
It is also going to collect rock and soil samples which will be stored on the planet’s surface in a cache. The European Space Agency and NASA are studying future mission concepts to retrieve those samples and bring them to Earth.
“The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology,” according to Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The Jezero Crater is on the western edge of the Isidis Planitia impact basin north of the Martian equator. It’s 28 miles wide and is believed to have once been home to an ancient river delta so it could have collected and preserved ancient organic molecules and other signs of microbial life from the water and sediments that flowed into the crater billions of years ago.