NASA's Quest For Mars 2020: Where To Land On Mars [Video]By Noi Ramirez, UniversityHerald Reporter
NASA Officials have made considerable progress in picking a location for the next rover landing on Mars 2020.
NASA officials say that picking just one best landing site on Mars is difficult, starting off on Aug. 15 with an initial list of 54 locations, the count is now down to eight high-priority sites according to NASA's Mars Exploration Program lead scientist Michael Meyer. Accordingly, another workshop for the rover landing will take place in February, according to Space.com.
Additionally, NASA is also conducting workshops for possible human landing sites that are reportedly aimed for in the 2030s if NASA's current schedule holds. The agency held a conference in October last year, collecting proposals on which areas on Mars to pick as a viable landing site that would be beneficial for high scientific research as well as enable human explorers to safely land, work, and live on the Red Planet.
According to NASA, JPL, the Mars 2020 rover will be sent to investigate a specific region on Mars where it is believed the ancient environment might have been able to support microbial life as well as probing Martian rocks for any evidence of past life.
Missions sent to Mars have had landing zones that are selected beforehand. These landing zones were chosen because they support each mission's specific objectives. Mars 2020s aim this time around is to look for a spot that could have supported life. More specifically, the team is looking for a spot that could have had water, such as along an ancient shoreline.
Once choices are narrowed further, NASA will employ the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's high-resolution imagery to scout the Red Planet for potential landing sites for human missions even though that next step is decades away. Meyer, in a statement, also paid tribute to the science community in their "spectacular" involvement, which helps which sites on Mars they deem best for landings.
Furthermore, NASA says locations will be further narrowed down with future workshops and reconnaissance.