NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will land in the Jezero Crater due to the high potential for evidence of past life organisms, the department announced Monday
During a press conference, NASA's Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said, “The landing site in Jezero 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.
“Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life,” Zurbuchen said.
Ken Farley, a project scientist on Mars 2020 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said, “The delta is a good place for evidence of life to be deposited and then preserved for the billions of years that elapsed since this lake was present.”
Scientists say they believe the Jezero Crater was formed by an asteroid which crashed into the Red Planet some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago and ranges from 28 miles wide to over 480 meters deep.
The space probe will brave scorching temperatures of 1,500 degrees Celsius before touching ground on February 18, 2021 to search for signs of ancient life and gather at least five different types of rock and soil samples.
The NASA said that the rover is currently being prepped for the extensive travel through space expected to transpire on July 2020.
Zurbuchen said, "Nothing has been more difficult in robotic planetary exploration than landing on Mars."The Mars 2020 engineering team has done a tremendous amount of work to prepare us for this decision. The team will continue its work to truly understand the Terrain Relative Navigation system and the risks involved, and we will review the findings independently to reassure we have maximized our chances for success," he said.