Science Evaluation Criteria

Science Evaluation Criteria for the Mars 2020 Landing Site

Scientists rated each of the criteria for the potential landing sites of the Mars 2020 rover. NASA considered these results from the Mars science community as a keyinput in narrowing down Mars 2020 landing sites from eight to three.

Criterion 1:
The site is an astrobiologically-relevant ancient environment and has geologic diversity that has the potential to yield fundamental scientific discoveries when it is a) characterized for the processes that formed and modified the geologic record; and b) subjected to astrobiologically-relevant investigations (e.g., assessment of habitability and biosignature preservation potential).

Criterion 2:
A rigorously documented and returnable cache of rock and regolith samples assembled at this site has the potential to yield fundamental scientific discoveries if returned to Earth in the future.

Criterion 3:
There is high confidence in the assumptions, evidence, and any interpretive models that support the assessments for Criteria 1 and 2 for this site.

Criterion 4:
There is high confidence that the highest-science-value regions of interest at the site can be adequately investigated in pursuit of Criteria 1 and 2 within the prime mission.

Criterion 5:
The site has high potential for significant water resources that may be of use for future exploration-whether in the form of water-rich hydrated minerals, ice/ice regolith or subsurface ice.