Where to land on Mars? NASA has made a decision for the next mission, which landed in 2021.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
NASA is ready to announce which of the last four competitors it chose as the landing site on Mars 2020, which will land on the Red Planet in 2021, and we will all find out more on Monday (11/19). )
The agency will announce its choice at a news teleconference on Monday at 12pm. EST (1700 GMT). Audio and visuals from the announcement will be available for viewing here on Space.com, owned by NASA TV, or directly on the agency's website.
The announcement follows a workshop held in October where hundreds of scientists listened to presentations about the benefits and concerns for each candidate site. At the end of the meeting, participants chose according to their preferences, and the aggregate results of the votes were sent as recommendations to be considered by NASA in the final decision-making process.
This is a tough decision, because Mars 2020 rover has a number of interesting scientific objectives to deal with. This mission is designed to look for evidence of the possibility of ancient life on Mars and to collect and store samples that future NASA missions can one day be brought back to the terrestrial laboratory.
Four candidate sites were named Columbia Hills, Jezero Crater, Northeast Syrtis, and Midway. (The latter, the challenger who is late to fight, lies between Jezero Crater and the Syrtis Northeast and has raised the hopes of scientists that they might be able to combine the two objectives into the same mission.)
Each site has been carefully evaluated for security risks – landings on Mars are very difficult, and there is no point in risking expensive spacecraft by choosing a touchdown point that adds more danger – and to the interests of nearby rock geology.
But which sites will win? Tune on Monday to find out!