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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Life on Mars, 2020

Life on Mars, 2020

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Thursday, December 13, 2018/Categories: natural history, video, space science, sustainability, environment, adventure

                       Artist Rendition of Mars Rover 202 Landing on Surface (credit: NASA/JPL/CalTech)

Searching for Life on Mars will receive a major boost during a series of investigations to be undertaken by NASA's new Rover 2020 mission. Currently being built by JPL engineers at CalTech in Pasadena, the rover will hopefully land safely in a targeted zone within Jezero Crater on Mars in 2021. This crater was selected because it was once a deep lake approximately the size of Lake Tahoe. The rover will spend the next two years looking for signs of biological life by sampling the former lake bed and river delta, some beaches on the lake's former shoreline, and the surrounding crater rim.

According to NASA, the 2020 rover is the next stage in its exploration for Martian life. The rover will not only look for indications of former habitable environmental conditions but will also search for fossil microbial life itself. The rover will carry a drill that can bore samples of promising rocks and soils. It will also carry a variety of cameras and scientific instruments for other analyses. Selected by JPL from proposals submitted by international research partners, the selected instruments will include: an advanced camera system (Mastcam-Z) with panoramic, stereoscopic, and zooming  capabilities; an instrument (SuperCam) that can provide imaging, chemical composition, and mineral analysis of soils as well as detect any presence of organic compounds; and ground-penetrating radar that will provide high-resolution imagery of the geologic substructure of Mars. The goals of the Mars 2020 mission are presented in a newly produced video.

All the analysis will be important to further understanding the environmental history of Mars. However, it would be super-exciting if the new rover were to roll past a bed of fossilized trilobites!



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