Syrtis region for possible 2020 Mars Rover landing site! Image: ASU-HiRISE.

Syrtis region for possible 2020 Mars Rover landing site! Image: ASU-HiRISE.

Scientific workshops have ranged from being large, more general topics (like "Mars Geology") to more specific topics of discussion (like "Martian dunes").

One particularly recent workshop was to decide the next landing site for the Mars Rover 2020! This was the third workshop, narrowing down from thirty to eight landing sites from the previous workshops, the previous one being in 2015. By the end of the 2017 workshop, we narrowed it down to three. 

The process was simple- gather many Mars scientists to present the pros and cons of specific sites- giving popularity to the top three. Now we have even more detailed work on the top three sites to find the final landing site! Here's what we know so far about the top three:

1-Columbia Hills in Gusev Crater. Sound familiar? We've been here before! This was the landing site for the previous rover, Spirit! Why go back? There is evidence for Gusev Crater to have once been a large lake area. Unfortunately Spirit died in 2010 and did not have the proper equipment at the time. 

2- Jezero Crater. Pronounced yeh-zero, this area is predicted to have once been a highly active river channel that would drain, then fill, then drain continuously. Lakebed sediments may still hold fossilized evidence. Microbial, that is!

3- Northeast Syrtis. This area may be our first direct look into how water played a role in this once-dynamic volcanic area. Very interesting minerals would be found here from such an interaction! 

Take a look at the specific landing site criteria and how this will soon evolve to more specific questions: 

http://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/mission/timeline/prelaunch/landing-site-selection/science-evaluation-criteria/

Thank you for reading and come back next week for a look into Jupiter's faint rings!

Jezero Crater area for possible future landing site! Image: ASU-HiRISE.

Jezero Crater area for possible future landing site! Image: ASU-HiRISE.