NASA stages for next chapter of Mars exploration with 2020 landing site

Saturday, 24 Nov, 2018

"Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionise how we think about Mars and its ability to harbour life".

NASA's InSight is set to land on Mars in less than a week and it is accompanied by twin orbiters called MarCO or Mars Cube One, according to Science News.

The landing site of Jezero Crater is different because of its abundant carbonate rocks and what they can hopefully reveal about early habitability on Mars, NASA said.

Scientists have debated where to land the rover for the past four years, and whittled down their decision from more than 60 possible sites.

"Mars is really the obvious place, after the Moon, to go and expand our presence in deep space", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's science mission directorate.

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But Jezero came out a victor as it offers promising sampling targets of at least five kinds of rock, including clays and carbonates that have high potential to preserve signatures of past life, as revealed by NASA in a press statement.

Jezero Crater, whose name comes from the Serbian word for lake, won out over three other finalist sites near the Martian equator: Midway and Northeast Syrtis, plus Columbia Hills (which is where NASA's Spirit rover roamed a decade ago). It'll also have experiments to test technologies that future astronauts will need, such as producing oxygen from Mars' thin carbon-dioxide atmosphere, and the equipment that's needed to extract and store samples for future missions to pick up.

The landing is scheduled to take place on November 26 at approximately 3PM ET.

NASA said as well as its river delta and small crater impacts, the site contains numerous boulders and rocks to the east, cliffs to the west and depressions filled with aeolian bedforms (wind-derived ripples in sand that could trap a rover) in several locations. For 728 earth days mission in NASA expect to remove the unit for about 29 GB of data that may shed light on the evolution of rocky planets, including Earth. TRN will enable the "sky crane" descent stage, the rocket-powered system that carries the rover down to the surface, to avoid hazardous areas. InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander created to study the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core.

"If Elysium Planitia were a salad, it would consist of romaine lettuce and kale - no dressing", Bruce Banerdt, InSight principal investigator of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said.

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