WATCH: Take a Virtual Tour of Jezero Crater, the Landing Site for the Mars 2020 Rover

Monday, 17 December 2018 - 1:10PM
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Monday, 17 December 2018 - 1:10PM
WATCH: Take a Virtual Tour of Jezero Crater, the Landing Site for the Mars 2020 Rover
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Screenshot: NASA/JPL - YouTube
Now that NASA has one another successful Mars Landing under their belt, they're looking to the next one: the Mars 2020 rover, scheduled to blast off in July 2020 and arrive on Mars in 2021. Like the Curiosity rover it's based on, the Mars 2020 rover will stake out its own crater to explore: the 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater, which was once home to an ancient Martian lake. Recently, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) released a YouTube video that gives a virtual, bird's-eye tour of the crater and shows the planned route for the rover.

Check it out below!



One of the key goals of the Mars 2020 rover will be to search Jezero Crater for signs of past Martian life. As the NASA scientist Ken Farley, the narrator of the video, explains: "On Earth, lakes are filled with living creatures. Evidence of that life is often preserved in the mud and sand deposited on the bottom of the lake. So, we'll use the rover's instruments to explore the rocks of the ancient lake bed." However, at least one recent piece of research suggests that the subterranean "deep biosphere" of Mars may be one of the best places to search for Martian life, past or present. The Mars 2020 rover doesn't have the tools to explore this region, but its exploration of Jezero Crater and the surrounding area could still turn up evidence of life.

If you're wondering why other Mars rovers have cool names like Opportunity, Spirit, and Curiosity and this new rover is just called "Mars 2020," that's because NASA is waiting until 2019 to hold its naming contest. Like the other rovers, potential names will be submitted to NASA by schoolkids, a method that has (so far) come up with some pretty iconic and official-sounding names...in contrast to the infamous contest to dub a new research ship, which ended with the top entry being "Boaty McBoatface."
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