NASA Mars mission gets flawless explainer from The Oatmeal

NASA Mars mission gets flawless explainer from The Oatmeal”

Jezero Crater was chosen after a 5-yr search of over 60 possible locations on MarsNASA has chosen a 3.6 billion-year-old crater as the landing site for its unmanned Mars 2020 rover mission to seek signs of past life on the Red Planet, the USA space agency said Monday.

The US space agency's mission to place a next-generation rover on the Martian surface is scheduled to launch in July 2020. Jezero means "lake" in Serbian. Although the water is long gone, sediments at the site could still contain a record of microbial life - if any existed in the first place.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted that the region could potentially carry "microbial life" and ancient molecules from billions of years ago.

It's been numerous years really taking shape, however, NASA's Mars 2020 wanderer mission is right now in the home stretch. The space agency has chosen Jezero Crater delta for the rover's landing site.

There are a number of factors that NASA had to consider while choosing a landing site.

NASA officially announces landing site of Mars 2020 rover, and it’s incredibly interesting

The sites of greatest scientific interest led NASA to add a new capability called Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN). NASA assured that mission engineers have reduced the landing zone of Mars 2020 to 50 percent smaller than Curiosity's in 2012 at Gale Crater.

Why Jezero Crater? The 28-mile-wide crater, which used to be the site of a river delta, is in an area that includes some of Mars's oldest and most scientifically significant landscapes. TRN will enable the "sky crane" descent stage, the rocket-powered system that carries the rover down to the surface, to avoid hazardous areas. "The team will continue their work to truly understand the TRN system and the risks involved, and we will review the findings independently to reassure we have maximized our chances for success".

The crater was selected from more than 60 candidate locations which were studied, analysed and debated by the mission team and planetary science community.

For NASA's InSight spacecraft, it all comes down to the final six minutes of a six-month journey to Mars.

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