NASA Mars mission gets ideal explainer from The Oatmeal

NASA officially announces landing site of Mars 2020 rover, and it’s incredibly interesting

NASA officially announces landing site of Mars 2020 rover, and it’s incredibly interesting

Scientists suspect the Mars 2020 rover may be able to detect signs of microbial life, as the landforms within the crater are estimated to be around 3.6 billion years old and were likely once part of a lake-delta system. This announcement comes just a week before the NASA's InSight probe is scheduled to land on Mars.

Jezero Crater is located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, which is a very big basin north of the Martian equator that was formed by an asteroid impact some 3.9 billion years ago.

The North American Space Agency says it will launch the uncrewed robot, about the size of a auto, in July 2020 to explore the Red Planet.

But first, the rover has to make it to the surface intact and upright, dodging a field of boulders, sand traps and the edges of the delta.

Technically, the Rover will be nearly an exact copy of the Curiosity probe, which launched in 2012 in the Gale crater. Of the eight candidates have been selected three finalists, and a month ago, experts called the most suitable option.

NASA spent the past five years to examine some 60 sites on Mars and decide which one would be the best landing site for its upcoming mission.

"Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionise how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander created to study the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.

"During the same time that life started on Earth, life could have started on Mars", he added.

A similar discovery would mark a new era in the exploration of Mars, which started in 1965 when the USA launched its first mission to the red planet. NASA thinks examining such rock samples in the sophisticated labs on Earth could lead to new findings that are hard for a robot to make all by itself.

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

Forward-looking: While it remains to be seen whether or not humans will ever establish long-term colonies on Mars, that doesn't mean organizations like NASA aren't exploring the Red Planet.

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