These eight places on Mars are potential landing sites under consideration as the destination for the Mars 2020 rover mission.

September 2, 2015

These eight places on Mars are potential landing sites under consideration as the destination for the Mars 2020 rover, a mission of NASA's Mars Exploration Program. In a years-long process, scientists and engineers have narrowed down the candidate landing sites from hundreds to a handful. The candidate landing sites are assessed for their scientific promise to yield clues about potential past life. Each location is weighed for the kinds of physical challenges it may present to the rover as it lands and traverses the surface. From the left, the landing sites under consideration are: SW Melas Basin, Holden Crater, Eberswalde Crater, Mawrth Vallis, Nili Fossae, NE Syrtis Major, Jezero Crater, Columbia Hills (within Gusev Crater).

NASA will choose final candidate landing sites for the mission in 2017. A description of the attributes of each of these eight sites is available here: http://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/mission/timeline/prelaunch/landing-site-selection/.

The Mars 2020 rover is scheduled to launch in July/August 2020 on a mission to answer key questions about the potential for past life on Mars, including a search for signs of past microbial life. The rover will drill cores from carefully selected rocks drill and set them aside in a "cache" for potential pickup by a possible future mission. Mars 2020 also provides opportunities to gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars. These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources (such as subsurface water), improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program. JPL manages the Mars 2020 project and the Mars Exploration Program for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Caltech in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.

For more information about Mars 2020, visit: http://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020.

Credit

NASA/JPL-Caltech

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