NASA chose the old delta as the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover, a vehicle for unmanned space exploration, to look for evidence of life on the red planet.
Although Mars is now cold and dry, the landing site is chosen, the Jezero crater, It is a 500 meter lake basin that opens into river networks between 3,500 and 3,900 million years ago.
"Delta is a good place for evidence of life to have been stored and preserved for billions of years since the lake was present," Ken Farley, a scientist from the Mars 2020 Laboratory project, told reporters. Jet Propulsion, during a conference call.
Experts believe that a 45-kilometer watershed can collect and store ancient organic molecules and other signs of microbial life. At least five rock types, including "clay and carbonates, which have high potential to preserve the traces of past life," were found in the crater, located north of the Mars equator, the space agency said.
Scientists have debated the place where the pirates landed for the past four years and arrived at their decision after evaluating more than 60 possible sites.
Delta is a good place for proof of life to have been stored and stored for billions of years
Mars Explorer 2020, a joint project from the European Space Agency and NASA at a cost of 2,500 million dollars, It will be launched in July 2020 and will touch Earth on Mars in February 2021.
Rovers are designed to land inside the crater and collect samples that will eventually be returned to Earth for deeper analysis, maybe by the end of 2020. But first of all, the vehicle must sit on the whole surface and stand up, through the rocky terrain, the sand trap and the edge of the delta.
Mars 2020 will use the same landing type that managed to land a Curiosity unmanned vehicle, also from NASA, in Gale's crater from the red planet in 2012.
Gale Crater, with many layers of sediment, chosen to investigate the story of how Mars made the transition from a warm and humid planet into ice cream and dust like now.
The location of the Jezero crater landings is different because of the abundant carbonate rocks and what they expect to reveal about their previous feasibility on Mars, the space agency said.
Instead of having an analytical laboratory on board, such as Curiosity, Mars 2020 is designed to see rocks on a finer scale, see the biofirm they maintain. Then he will gather them in compartments and separate missions, still to be defined, will bring the stones back to Earth to be studied further.