NASA has major plans for the coming Mars 2020 rover, launching in summer 2020 (duh) and reaching the red planet in February following. Raising a landing site for such a mission effectively shows what type of scientific studies you want to prioritize. And that, Jezero Crater's selection, announced this week, confirms NASA's desire and partners to learn if Mars (or was) was home to a huge life of some kind.
That's not spinning-it's something that scientists express themselves. "There is a wide variety of bricks and types of rocks available on this site, and the Mars 2020 networking will be able to ask us to improve our understanding of the ancient Mediterranean surface environment and could keep any evidence for life in the past, "said Timothy Goudge, a planetary scientist at the University of Texas in Austin. We call Jezero "an incredible net site that will give us a huge opportunity to make very strong and interesting science."
The 28 miles three-third crater was chosen on the final Martian surface, which included North East Syrtis (home to buried hydrothermal systems) and Columbia Hills (notable for being home to old hot springs). A dark horse candidate, Midway (also home to an ancient hydrothermal activity) was also considered. Jezero Crater and North East Syrtis were the frontier, but they did not have a clear leader in support, and Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA's NASA Link Administrator, ultimately chose Jezero.
It is not hard to see why, given the location of Jezero. "We believe we can give Jezero the best and on the adjoining plains and reach one of the other landing sites, Midway – which is a completely different kind of geological environment , "said Briony Horgan, assistant professor of planetary science at the University of Purdue who helped evaluate the candidates. "I think that the whole team is excited about that possibility in particular. The type of samples we can get from those two sites is a total hole-in-one. It will find amazing, not it is only for Mars but essentially, the whole solar system. "
But Jezero was initially popular because there is probably one of the oldest lake basins kept on Mars. Briony and his colleagues think it is an active lake with a river system during the Noachian Period (a geological Geological range ranging from 4.1 to 3.7 billion years ago), when Mars enjoyed the surface water activity most in its history. Two main river valleys would have fed water into the lake basin, and a valley outlet would allow water to drain out.
"When the lake was present, it probably would have provided a living environment that it is in our life as we know that it would have been able to survive in it," said Goudge. "The question of one who actually keeps evidence for life in the past is a tremendous huge question that sends a great deal of science made by the Mars 2020 race mission. "
Although the water has passed, Jezero plays a prominent part of a kept river delta leading to the old lake, which probably deposits a quantity of sediments that carry old minerals and elements to an old lake and llyn. "These types of sedimentary deposits record the conditions forming over their lifetime activity, and as the carrier breaks up different layers, it will be able to read this record said this site was several billion years ago, "said Goudge. "When deltas collects material from their water, the process of transporting that material into the river and depositing into the Jezero lake would have resulted in the focus of any existing organic issue within specific layers of the deposit, so we have a very good understanding of where to go to search for bissue possibilities as soon as possible. "
But Jezero's most compelling features is that it is home to carbon, which could lead us to more concrete signs of Martian's life. Mars has a carbon dioxide environment, and when it is rain, it produces carbonic acid, which in turn produces carbonate on the surface.
On Mars, carbonades are incredibly rare. Even more inconvenient, they are actually more extensive in the Jezero Crater. According to Horgan, they may have grown out of the water itself. "Rapid mineral rainfall as it is in water does a nice job of anything that lives in the water," he said. In essence, carbonate deposits could have kept any Martian microbes that were living at the bottom of the lake or on the shoreline, or any produced donations. "We could observe those things directly with rover and instruments on the board. That's a really exciting possibility."
And to extend on top of each, a lava flow may have been located on top of all these lake sediments. A sample of the lava flow could help us to better understand Mars's geological history, and also help us reduce Jezero's age and other craters across the red planet.
"All of these things together make Jezero really genuinely diverse and interesting," said Horgan. "It has always been popular for those reasons." Mars 2020 technology gives us the opportunity to study those elements in depth.
And what we learn from Jezero will shape what we know about the Mars in general. The water line in Jezero matches the water activity timeline elsewhere on the planet. In particular, the delta was able to collect material from a large catchment area and, basically, fed it to one location, which means that the roaming has the chance to sink a robotic to a very diverse variety of materials. We will also be able to learn more about the proximity of the Noachian climate to enjoy life across the planet. "These are huge questions not only for Jezero, but for Mars in general," said Horgan.
What makes Mars 2020 so special? Well, remember earlier this year when Ruthin arrived ashamed to find evidence of an ancient organic matter incorporated into red and white red squirrels? Mars 2020 has a series of laboratory instruments and equipment on the board that can follow those types of discoveries in an unprecedented detail. "The rover will have this rigid ability to make very high geology and astrobiology," said Horgan. It's exciting to see instruments such as SHERLOC (a raw spectrometer that can detect the presence of organic organs in rocks) and PIXL (an x-ray spectrometer that can identify individual elements in a sample) to look not only for biosignatures and Evidence of ancient life, but also where those things have located in the rock itself.
There is also a lot of science that we can do with a blower, and that is another reason that there is so much excitement around the new mission. "We're trying to make astrobiology on the surface, and that's the Mars 2020 mission point," said Horgan. But with Mars 2020, "we will also collect samples that we will eventually bring to the Earth on another mission. As a result, it will be an interesting mission – we will have our competing priorities that persuade us I stay and study the rocks in a few places, or sip around and collect as many samples as possible. But I've been very proud of this rushing technology, and I believe we could both. "