Scientists home in on landing site for the next Mars rover

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Scientists home in on landing site for the next Mars rover NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS/BROWN UNIVERSITY By Paul VoosenOct. 18, 2018 , 5:50 PM Email Jezero crater and its fossil river delta is a favored landing site for NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. center_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country After 3 days of intense debate, a nonbinding vote by planetary scientists meeting in Glendale, California, resulted in a virtual tie between several candidate landing sites for NASA’s next $2.5 billion Mars rover, due for launch in 2020.The straw poll is the culmination of years of scientific and engineering analysis of three NASA-approved sites: Jezero, a fossilized delta that spills into an impact crater; Northeast Syrtis, a stretch of ancient crust that may have been created by underground mineral springs; and Columbia Hills, a potential former hot springs previously visited by the Spirit rover. Earlier this year, the team added to the mix a fourth site, nearly identical in composition to Northeast Syrtis, called Midway, with the potential that a mission could visit Jezero and then Midway, or vice versa.All four sites were evaluated both for their suitability as the primary landing site and as an area for continued exploration following the rover’s first couple of years. In turn, each site was rated for the value of the science the rover could conduct itself, with its fleet of instruments, and the value of the samples that it will drill for return to Earth. Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe With 158 votes tallied, Jezero and Northeast Syrtis rated in a near tie for their value as a primary destination, with Midway close behind. Jezero and Midway, in turn, rated higher as destinations for an extended mission. Across both categories, only Columbia Hills was rated much lower. Although the method of the vote—rating candidates—did not lead to a clear recommendation, the combined ratings do seem to endorse the Midway-Jezero pairing. As Ryan Anderson, a planetary scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, put it, “A mega-mission in either direction looks pretty likely.”What the vote means will be up to the Mars 2020 team and, ultimately, NASA’s science chief, Thomas Zurbuchen, who made a brief appearance at the workshop. Although a plan to return the rover’s samples is not finalized, Zurbuchen noted, a mission should come into view by early 2020, after Europe, a vital potential contributor, finalizes its next round of science funding. “Make no mistake,” Zurbuchen told the scientists, “we want those samples back.”Read our in-depth preview of the landing sites, including the rise of Midway here.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *