Executive Intelligence Review


NASA Mars 2020 Rover Will Land in Ancient Jezero Crater Lakebed

Nov. 21, 2018 (EIRNS)—NASA announced the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover on Nov. 19, which is the ancient lakebed of Jezero Crater. It is one of 29 craters that have been identified as having been dramatically flooded or hosting slower water flows over time. Jezero Crater, which is 45 km wide, hosted a lake inside about 3.5 billion years ago, scientists estimate, which was as deep as 250 meters. They propose that delta areas around the lake were potential sites for life. Searching for biosignatures in habitable environments is the primary assignment of the Mars 2020 rover. It will launch in July 2020 and land on Mars in February 2021.

It took scientists four years to select a landing site for the rover. They started the process with a list of 60 potential sites, and had whittled the list down to 4 by October. The site must combine scientific significance with safety. As an example, Ken Farley, Mars 2020 project scientist, explained that “scientists always want to see outcrops, which are boulders and cliffs, and the people who are responsible for landing safely are trying very hard to avoid those things.”

The lander’s principal job is to collect samples from areas that appear promising as past abodes of life, and cache them to be returned to Earth in a future mission.