NASA is inching ahead with its plans of sending more rovers to Mars and in one such small step has shortlisted three potential landing sites for the upcoming Mars rover mission that is set to launch in 2020.
According to NASA, the three recommended locations include Northeast Syrtis, which is a very ancient portion of Mars’ surface; Jezero crater, which is believed to be home of an ancient Martian lake; and Columbia Hills, which was potentially a home to an ancient hot spring.
Mars 2020 is targeted for launch in July 2020 aboard an Atlas V 541 rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the US. The rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing site on Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, search for signs of ancient Martian life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers.
NASA is also likely to equip the rover with the capability to collect samples from Mars and store it such that they can be returned to Earth by a future mission.
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will build and manage operations of the Mars 2020 rover for the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.