Amazing Universe

Mars'”Jezero” Crater Favorite Spot for NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Landing

Scientists from NASA’s Mars Exploration Program have voted for the Jezero crater as a place of greatest astrobiological interest to land the Mars 2020 mission to the Red Planet.

According to scientists, the crater housed an ancient lake around 4,100 to 3,700 million years ago.

Jezero Crater area Mars digital-image mosaic merged with color of the MC-13 quadrangle, Syrtis Major region of Mars. The central part is dominated by dark dust and lava flows of the Syrtis Major Planitia region. These lava flows are partly bounded to the east by a large depression, Isidis basin, which contains smooth plains, and to the west and north by heavily cratered and moderately faulted highlands. Latitude range 0 to 30 degrees, longitude range -90 to -45 degrees. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Jezero Crater area Mars digital-image mosaic merged with color of the MC-13 quadrangle, Syrtis Major region of Mars. The central part is dominated by dark dust and lava flows of the Syrtis Major Planitia region. These lava flows are partly bounded to the east by a large depression, Isidis basin, which contains smooth plains, and to the west and north by heavily cratered and moderately faulted highlands. Latitude range 0 to 30 degrees, longitude range -90 to -45 degrees. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Images from the orbit indicate the preservation of the river delta that extends into the crater and the nearby outcrops of exposed clay minerals.

These outcrops are considered a likely place to find organic preserves and other biogenic signatures.

Almost 200 people attended a meeting in mid-October to analyze the equipment and instruments of the Mars 2020 mission, and especially the evaluation of the four landing sites planned by NASA. – Columbia Hills, Jezero Crater, Northeast Syrtis and Midway-.

Jezero received the most support, with 158 votes, reports Universe Today.

Columbia Hills is located within the 166 kilometers wide Gusev crater and was previously visited by the Spirit rover.

As indicated in the final report of the meeting, this site is considered a valuable research objective due to the way in which it is believed that thermal waters (which could have sustained life) existed on the location sometime.

Proposed Mars 2020 landing site inside Jezero crater. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain
Proposed Mars 2020 landing site inside Jezero Crater. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain

The Northeast Syrtis and Midway sites are considered promising because they are connected and virtually identical in composition.

Basically, both sites are a stretch of ancient bark that could have been formed by underground mineral springs.

In addition, both appear to have been altered over time by the presence of water.

Because of their proximity, scientists explained how Jezero and Midway seemed to be favored by a possible pairing as part of an extended mission of the rover.

As indicated in the final outcome letter:

“The summary assessment plots reveal the Jezero crater site is assessed the highest or nearly the highest for all criteria relative to both the prime and extended mission. The Midway and NE Syrtis sites were also assessed highly for all criteria for the prime and extended mission, but slightly below the Jezero crater site.”

“By contrast, the Columbia Hills site was consistently assessed lower than the other three sites for almost all criteria related to both the prime mission and extended mission objectives (except it
was assessed slightly higher than the Midway site relative to the confidence in interpretations for the prime mission).”

“Interestingly, the Midway and Jezero crater sites were assessed the highest (and received the most votes for high potential) with respect to extended mission criteria, perhaps reflecting the interest in possible extended mission opportunities between the two sites.”

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