APR 27, 2017 06:00 AM PDT

Where Should We Land the Mars 2020 Rover?

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

The Mars 2020 mission will be one the most extensive searches for life on the red planet yet. It will be equipped with better sensors and more useful equipment that even Curiosity would get jealous of (if machines could get jealous).

The Mars 2020 rover will be the most complicated rover ever put on the red planet.

Image Credit: NASA

As a result, experts are getting pretty hyped up about where they should land the Mars 2020 rover. While there are several possible points of interest, the Northeastern Syrtis Major region is getting a lot of attention from scholars because it’s high in mineral deposit count and because there’s a lot of history at the location.

If any parts of Mars were indeed ever habitable, perhaps the Northeastern Syrtis Major region has some clues. After all, the location is home to both a volcano and a very old impact crater, each of which have the potential to offer some very interesting clues about Mars’ puzzling history.

A new map of the Martian surface that was shared in the journal Icarus just last month details the region very closely, revealing parts of the area that are worth checking out.

Image Credit: Michael S. Bramble/Icarus

During times when the volcano would have exploded, it sent minerals from the deeper layers of Mars spewing to the surface. This will provide an excellent opportunity to learn more about what’s beneath the Martian surface since it’ll be too hard to dig into the surface, and the impact crater may reveal more about the rock that slammed into Mars in the distant past.

Collecting and examining mineral samples will be an important process in determining whether or not life could have or ever did exist on the red planet, because we can compare it to the mineral makeup of Earth and what makes our planet so special for the existence of life.

Importantly, the existence of several different kinds of clay at this region is really intriguing scientists, because for clay to exist, you need to have had water at some point. Clay rarely forms without the existence of water, and because scientists believe there’s evidence for flowing water on Mars, they have little doubt that water helped form the clay.

Investigating the clay and the areas where water is believed to have flowed at some point are critical if we’re to find any traces of life. Not only can the clay help us understand important chemical makeup qualities of the planet, but clay is also great at preserving things that may have existed there at an earlier date.

Related: Mars' Curosity rover takes a selfie after drilling at Buckskin

Because the Mars 2020 mission is scheduled to launch some time in 2020, there isn’t much time left to decide where we’re going to land. On the other hand, the new details surrounding the Northeastern Syrtis Major region make it a hotspot of interest, so it’ll surely be considered.

Source: California Academy of Sciences, Wired

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 14, 2019
Will Humans One Day Give Birth in Space?
Deep space missions are becoming an increasingly relevant topic of discussion in the space community these days, and perhaps unsurprisingly, this often lea...
DEC 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 14, 2019
The Science Behind the Hubble Deep Field Image
The Hubble Space Telescope launched into low orbit around the Earth in 1990, and it was only a few years later that the space-based observatory captured a...
DEC 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 14, 2019
What You Need to Know About NASA's Upcoming WFIRST Space Telescope
There are several space telescopes observing the cosmos at the very time of this writing, and there are plans to launch even more of them in the near futur...
DEC 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 14, 2019
Spacewalking Astronauts Attempt to Fix AMS-02's Cooling System
When you’re an astronaut at the International Space Station, being asked to take on risky spacewalk missions is par for the course. In just the last...
DEC 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 14, 2019
The Air Force's X-37B Plane Spent 780 Days in Space, But Why?
The United States Air Force regularly conducts top-secret missions and science experiments on behalf of the federal government. One of the military branch&...
DEC 14, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 14, 2019
The most memorable space events of 2019
This year was one of the most exciting ones for all of the space geeks around the world. Many discoveries and once in a lifetime events happened...
Loading Comments...