NASA has chosen three potential areas on the Red Planet which may be used for drilling and exploration. When the Mars 2020 spaceship reaches the surface of Mars, it will start the process of exploration, drilling to collect samples. The space agency did not yet establish which the drilling site will be. Nevertheless, specialists have narrowed down the list to only three choices.
- NASA scientists met to establish three potential areas for Mars exploration.
- They decided on three sites which are most like to support life.
- Mars 2020 rover will be send to explore the planet and do drills to collect samples.
Scientists have analyzed and discussed the options they have during a meeting in Monrovia, California. The group of researchers have examined data and captures received from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. After they have thoroughly analyzed the situation, they voted for the most accessible areas which they also believe they might support life.
The majority of the votes went to Jezero crater. This site was previously an ancient lake which is about the same size as Lake Tahoe. The lake was linked to a large river which brought sediments into it. Thus, the lake might be a perfect spot to start searching for life on the Red Planet.
The second highest number of votes went to the area called Northeast Syrtis. The site used to hide hot water underneath its crust, circulating beneath the surface. The third location chosen by scientists from the three potential areas was Columbia Hills. Apparently, this was the most controversial choice of researchers who had long debated it. Here, the Spirit craft used to wander about in the past.
Previously, Spirit discovered here silica rocks. After analyzing them, researchers establish that they resemble hydrothermal mineral deposits found on Earth. Some of the experts who participated in the workshop argued that they do not think that Mars 2020 rover will actually be able to determine whether these rocks could be linked with the existence of life here in the past.
The rover is scheduled to spend approximately two years on the Martian land, making drills to collect samples. But first, scientists need to decide on a single exploration site. However, whether those samples will reach back to Earth, it will only depend on a follow-up mission. NASA specialists claimed that the rover would not return to Earth.
Thus, they are forced to find a strategy to help them bring the samples home for further analysis. If NASA can develop a plan for a follow-up mission, then they will be able to examine the first Martian rocks which are not meteorites.
Image courtesy of: wikipedia