by 👩💻 Alice Monroe
Following NASA's Insight lander touching down on the Red Planet Monday, the space agency has confirmed the next Martian landing site for its forthcoming rover mission.
NASA's Insight lander touches down on Mars [video]
When NASA recently advised that they would be renewing their space exploration efforts in years to come, they weren’t speaking lightly. Getting back to exploring the Moon and learning more about Mars, our mysterious red planet neighbor, appear to be high priority for the agency, who have recently let us in on a bit more information with regard to how they intend to explore the surface of the planet in 2020. Their rover mission in two years’ time will be their next big step in exploring our solar system, which of course means that this latest news will excite anyone hoping to find out more about the possibility of intelligent life beyond terra firma.
NASA has confirmed that, out of 60 potential locations for the Mars 2020 rover mission, the Jezero Crater has been picked as the best possible candidate for exploration. The point of the 2020 mission is to largely analyze the planet in terms of whether or not it was ever home to life of any kind – and whether or not it was habitable at all, according to Sky News. Microbial life, at this stage, is being hunted – meaning that the chances of anyone finding little green men will remain to be seen for now, at least. Even so – the news is extremely exciting, as it means that NASA are more than keen to start stepping the Mars missions up a gear.
“The landing site in Jerzero 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,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator working for the mission, confirmed on behalf of NASA.
NASA Announces the Mars 2020 Rover's Landing Spot [video]
It appears that the impact basin surrounding the crater, Isidis Planitia, could provide explorers several keys to Mars’ ancient history, including whether or not life has ever existed there. This, at the very least, could answer the age-old question of whether or not Martians have ever, or could ever exist. Have they been and gone before we even had chance to evolve?
“Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life,” continues Zurbuchen. Ken Farley, a NASA project scientist, echoed Zurbuchen’s enthusiasm. “What was once out of reach is now conceivable, thanks to the 2020 engineering team and advances in Mars entry, descent and landing technologies.”
Testing will continue with regard to the Jezero Crater – but it looks likely that this is where we will be heading to in 2020.
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