For the first time in six years, a new mission is about to land on Mars. Today, the space agency published a blog post announcing that it has selected a landing zone for its upcoming 2020 rover mission. The rover which is expected to land on February 18, 2021 will search for ancient life as well as collect soil samples from the Red Planet.
"Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionise how we think about Mars and its ability to harbour life", added Mr Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the agency's science mission directorate.
Jezero Crater is located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, which is a big basin north of the Martian equator that was formed by an asteroid impact some 3.9 billion years ago.
The US space agency revealed its rover, a space exploration vehicle created to move across the rocky planet, will land in the 28-mile wide Jezero Crater, which is believed to be 3.6 billion years old. Scientists say the site is ideal because of its terrain with landforms dating from as far as long as 3.6 billion years ago.
Jezero Crater's ancient lake-delta system offers many promising sampling targets of at least five different kinds of rock, including clays and carbonates that have high potential to preserve signatures of past life.
'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'.
This image of the Jezero Crater delta combines information from two instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
There are a number of factors that NASA had to consider while choosing a landing site. It is a revised version of the rover Curiosity, which arrived on the Red Planet in 2012.
Jezero Crater's selection is still "dependent upon extensive analyses and verification testing" according to NASA, and a final report will be given to NASA HQ towards the end of 2019.
On November 26, NASA's Mars InSight lander will touch down on the Red Planet.
The Mars 2020 Project at JPL manages rover development for SMD.