Jezero crater regional topography from the MOLA instrument. Image credit:  NASA / MIT / Goudge et al 2017

Jezero crater regional topography from the MOLA instrument. Image credit: NASA / MIT / Goudge et al 2017

Good morning, Earthlings! On a previous Universe Playpen blog posting, I had mentioned the top 3 landing sites chosen for the Mars 2020 rover!

And the winner is…

Jezero Crater!

Jezero crater is a 45-kilometer wide crater north of the Martian equator. Research suggests that this was once a lake, making this one of the most prominent paleolake areas on Mars. The main tell-tale sign that this had running water?

Jezero is home to an astonishing delta fan! Delta fans are fan-like structures of clays and other sediments when a moving body of water pushes the sediment through a channel, and it spreads out, like a fan!

The mineralogy of this delta fan is still being researched, mainly trying to figure out a timeline of these mineral abundances and origins! The vast amount of water activity all over Mars has been dated to die off in the middle-Hesperian age of Mars’ geologic history. From this time, the delta fan would dry and erode. The most recent Martian geologic time, the Amazonian era, involved lavas from the Syrtis area (where Jezero is nearby), spilling into the crater floor. Throughout this time, groundwater could have been percolating through the rocks, altering original minerals to new ones, like clays!

Jezero Crater on Mars with its prominent and gorgeous delta fan! Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL

Jezero Crater on Mars with its prominent and gorgeous delta fan! Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL

The Mars 2020 rover will plan to land near the delta fan in prospects of finding signs of ancient water and possible habitability components. The Mars 2020 rover will also try a new technique of bagging-and-tagging rock samples with the hopes of future astronauts collecting them in a cache (kind of puts geo-caching to a new extreme, right?)

Mars 2020 rover will launch in July 2020 and land in February 2021!

Thanks for reading and come back next week for a look at MU69!