Scientists at NASA have just announced a major development with regards to Mars and plans to search for life there.
If you’re wondering where we stand with regards to a manned mission to Mars, NASA has just made a major announcement: they’ve narrowed down their choices for the Mars 2020 drill site to just three locations. The Mars 2020 rover will drill for samples as it searches for life on the Red Planet, and scientists have been trying to figure out where to put it. Now, they think they are close to having an answer.
NASA was able to drill down to three drill sites during a workshop with scientists in Monrovia, Calif. They used images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and then voted for the locations that may have supported life and are relatively accessible.
The Jezero crater got the most votes. Scientists think it once had an ancient lake the size of Lake Tahoe, as well as a river that could have been a great breeding ground for life. The second highest number of votes went to Northeast Syrtis, which once had hot water circulating around its crust. And then there’s Columbia Hills, which would go to where the Spirit rover once explored to look more deeply into silica rocks found by Spirit that looked like hydrothermal mineral deposits.
NASA says: “The Mars 2020 mission would explore a site likely to have been habitable, seek signs of past life, fill a returnable cache with the most compelling samples, take the first steps towards in situ resource utilization on Mars, and demonstrate technology needed for the future human and robotic exploration of Mars. A more detailed description of the proposed mission objectives can be found in the Mars 2020 Annoucement of Opportunity [NASA AO] and the SDT report [Mustard et al., 2013]. The science requirements for caching are the most demanding and will likely govern the landing site selection process.”