NASA Picks Landing Spot for 2020 Mars Rover

Gwen Vasquez
November 23, 2018

NASA recently announced it will land its Mars 2020 rover in Jezero Crater.

Even though the Red Planet is now cold and dry, the landing site, Jezero Crater, was filled with a 500-metre deep lake that opened to a network of rivers some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago.

The unmanned probe has to leave Cape Canaveral in Florida in July 2020 with an Atlas-V launcher.

The car-size robot is expected to land inside the 28-mile-diameter Jezero Crater, an ancient impact site located just north of the Martian equator.

"Mars had conditions more similar to Earth early on - in the first billion years - so what may have been happening in our solar system that allowed life to start on this planet may also be evident on Mars itself". In addition, the material carried into the delta from a large watershed may contain a wide variety of minerals from inside and outside the crater.

Mars InSight

NASA revealed that there has always been an interest to explore Jezero Crater. A huge river delta surrounds the crater and stretches for many miles in several directions. "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.

InSight is very different from NASA's famous Mars rovers, Curiosity and Opportunity. The sites of greatest scientific interest led NASA to add a new capability called Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN).

Jezero Crater's selection is still "dependent upon extensive analyses and verification testing" according to NASA, and a final report will be given to NASA HQ towards the end of 2019. A final report will be presented to an independent review board and NASA Headquarters in the fall of 2019.

Artist concept of the Mars 2020 rover.

The crater was selected from more than 60 candidate locations which were studied, analysed and debated by the mission team and planetary science community. If you enjoy trailers of science fiction movies, such as Interstellar, First Man, or Alone on Mars, you're going to love NASA's anniversary video about space and the agency's achievements, published this Friday, November 16th, and available at the end of this article. The lander was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on the central coast of California on May 5, 2018 and has been hurtling through space towards our closest neighbour ever since.

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