Nasa InSight Mission's live streaming at QNL on Monday

24 November, 2018, 13:46 | Author: Patty Aguilar
  • NASA officially announces landing site of Mars 2020 rover, and it’s incredibly interesting

InSight is heading for a spot of land called Elysium Planitia, an area that astronomers have described as "the biggest parking lot on Mars".

NASA has been flying past, orbiting, landing and roving over Mars since 1965.

Mars 2020 is created to land inside the crater and collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for further analysis, perhaps by the later 2020s.

As it once hosted an ancient lake-delta system, NASA hopes Jezero also contains a variety of minerals, which would hugely help discover more about the red planet.

While Earth's tectonics and other forces have erased most evidence of its early history, much of Mars - about one-third the size of Earth - is believed to have remained relatively static for more than 3 billion years, creating a geologic time machine for scientists.

NASA officially announces landing site of Mars 2020 rover, and it’s incredibly interesting
Mars landing comes down to final 6 minutes of 6-month trip

Eventually, the research could be used to learn more about which types of Earth-like exoplanets may support alien life. "This is important for understanding the similarities and differences between Earth, Mars, and other rocky planets", Dr. Sean McMahon, a geobiologist from the University of Edinburg, was quoted as saying.

Nasa aimed for as flat an area as possible so the lander does not tip over and thereby kill the mission, and so the robotic arm can set the science instruments down.

The crater is made of numerous boulders and rocks to the east, cliffs to the west and depressions filled with aeolian bedforms, which are wind-derived ripples in sand that could trap a rover, in several locations, NASA explained. "But what was once out of reach is now conceivable, thanks to the 2020 engineering team and advances in Mars entry, descent and landing technologies", he said. Like Curiosity, Mars 2020 would be lowered to the surface from a rocket-powered "Sky Crane" platform, which NASA says is the safest way to land a 1-ton payload. Scientists and engineers are working hard on all the hardware that the rover will use to do its job, but up until today, NASA still hadn't actually decided where on the Red Planet the rover would land.

Make sure you visit Metro.co.uk on the day as well to get all the news about this historic Mars landing. MarCO would also be the first CubeSats to travel this far from Earth.

And in the 2020s, NASA's next rover is likely to be joined by the European Space Agency's first rover, which is part of the European-Russian ExoMars exploration campaign.


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