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NASA’s Mars 2020 nuclear rover to land in Jezero Crater, look for life



nasa mars 2020 rover landing site jezero crater
will attempt to land its Mars 2020 nuclear-powered rover in
Jezero Crater (center).


  • NASA has picked a landing site for its upcoming
    Mars 2020 rover.
  • The space agency will try to land its nuclear-powered
    robot in Jezero Crater, a giant impact near the Martian
  • Jezero Crater was a water-rich area billions of years
    ago on Mars, and it might still
    hide signs of alien life such as
  • NASA hopes to dig up and
    store Martian soil samples — for the first time in human
    history — for a future launch back to Earth.

NASA has announced where it plans to land the Mars 2020 rover and
dig for signs of
alien life
in the red planet’s soil.

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. It was one of more than 60
sites that NASA eyed during years of consideration.

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is made from a backup of the
Curiosity rover
, which landed on Mars in August 2012 and has
roamed the red planet on nuclear power ever since. But the new
six-wheeled robot will come with vital
upgrades to its wheels
and — most importantly — be equipped
to “collect rock and soil samples and store them in a cache on
the planet’s surface,” the agency said in a press release.

This canister of soil and rocks, if successfully stashed, will be
the critical first leg of an unprecedented, multi-mission effort
to collect and launch the first sample of Mars back to Earth,
where scientists would be able to analyze it in detail.

“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,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s
associate administrator, said in the release. “Getting samples
from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars
and its ability to harbor life.”

mars 2020 rover arm sample drill illustration nasa jpl caltech PIA22111
illustration of NASA’s Mars 2020 rover exploring the Martian


NASA expects to launch the Mars 2020 rover in July or August of
2020, which means the robot would arrive on Mars in April or May
of 2021.

Like Curiosity, NASA plans to use a death-defying “sky crane”
system to plunk the 2,315-lb robot on the Martian surface.

Jezero was named in 2007 after a town in Bosnia
and Herzegovina, and it means “lake” in several Slavic languages.

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