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Scientists debate landing site for the next Mars Rover



This artist's image shows NASA's Mars 2020 Rover studying a Mars Rock Outrcrop. Photo credits: NASA / JPL-Caltech

Hundreds of scientists and explorers will meet this week at the Hotel Ballroom north of Los Angeles to present, discuss and discuss the future landing site for the next NASA rover , Mars 2020. The three-day workshop is the fourth and final in a series designed to ensure that NASA receives the widest range of data and opinions from the scientific community before the agency decides where to send the new rover. It is to look not only in the antique for signs of habitable conditions on the Mars, but also for traces past looking for microbial life. The Mars 2020 landing pad is of great interest to the planetary community, as it brings along a sampling system under the surface rover's new research magnets, which collects rock and soil samples and sets them aside in a "cache" of the surface of Mars. A future mission could possibly return these samples to Earth. The next Mars landing after Mars 2020 could well be a vehicle to retrieve these Mars 2020 samples.

"The Mars 2020 site could prepare for Mars exploration for the next decade," said Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA's Washington headquarters. "I look forward to the lively debate and critical input from science and technology, whichever landing site is chosen, it can contain the very first lot of Martian soil people touch."

The workshop opens with an opening speech by NASA Explorer Michael Meyer. After the project status, the technical restrictions and the criteria for the location evaluation the presentations will be presented. Fair Warning: Expect much jargon as terms such as biosignatures geochemical conditions impact deformation biogenetic potential olivine lithologies and serpentinization and their astrobiological potential blast the language the moderators.

"We have been running these workshops since 201

4 to support country selection in 2020," said Matt Golombek, co-chair of the Mars Landing Site Steering Committee of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "In our first workshop, we started with about 30 candidate landing sites, and after additional orbital recordings and a second landing site workshop, we had a recommendation from eight locations to recommend for further evaluation." There were so many great locations from which The process was difficult, and this time it will be even more difficult with four finalists – each site has its own fascinating scientific potential and knowledgeable advocates. "

Champions for four landing options will be on the podium and their favorite package present and defend on the Red Planet. It's another location when, following the completion of the third workshop in 2017, it was expected that three locations on Mars would be recommended – Columbia Hills, Jezero Crater and Northeast Syrtis.

"At the end of the February 2017 workshop, there were only three locations left as potential landing sites for Mars 2020 on our radar," said Ken Farley, Mars 2020 Project Scientist at JPL. "But in the following months, a proposal for a landing site between Jezero and Northeast Syrtis was made, and our goal is to get to the right page, which provides the maximum science for Mars 2020, and this new site – called Midway – has been worthy

After all, on the last day presentations were completed, participants of the workshop will weigh the positives and negatives of each page. The results of these considerations will be provided to the Mars 2020 project, which will include them in a recommendation to NASA Headquarters in Washington, where the final selection will be made. The announcement of the Mars 2020 landing site is expected by the end of the year.

"I have participated in all the workshops so far, and no one has been disappointed with intelligent advice and lively discussions," said Farley. "But that's what science is all about – compelling and respectable sharing of ideas – the passion of the participants shows how important they are to exploring Mars, knowing that they play a key role in this process, and they know how important the landing site will be for Mars 2020. "

Mars 2020 will launch with an Atlas V of the United Launch Alliance (ULA) from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in July 2020. It will expects him to reach Mars in February 2021.

The rover will conduct geological assessments of its landing pad on Mars, determine the habitability of the environment, look for signs of the ancients Mars life, and assess natural resources and hazards for future human explorers. Scientists will use the instruments aboard the rover to identify and collect samples of rock and soil, store them in sealed tubes and leave them on the planet's surface for possible return to Earth on a future Mars mission.

The Mars 2020 project at JPL in Pasadena, California, directs rover development for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA's headquarters in Washington. NASA's Launch Services program, located at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida agency, is responsible for the launch management.

More information about the workshop can be found at: https://marsnext.jpl.nasa.gov/workshops/wkshp_2018_10. cfm

For information about listening to workshop presentations, visit: https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/landing-site-workshop/

For more information about Mars 2020 visit: https: // mars .nasa.gov / mars2020 /

For more information on NASA's Mars missions, visit: https://mars.nasa.gov


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