Scientists of the Mars 2020 rover project from NASA believe that the best place to search for traces of ancient life is the Jezero Crater, where the next Mars rover will land on Feb. 18, 2021.
A recently published paper in the Icarus journal highlights distinct deposits of minerals known as carbonates around the Jezero area, which used to be the site of a lake more than 3 billion years ago. The Jezero Crater is about 45 kilometers wide.
On our planet, carbonates are part of structures that can withstand anything in fossil form for billions of years. Some common examples are seashells and other various marine life forms.
Carbonates are useful because they can help scientists understand more about how Mars lost its liquid water and thick atmosphere and turned into the freezing desert that we see today.
The fact that there is a chance of discovering stromatolite-like structures existing on the red planet is why the amount of carbonates following Jezero’s shoreline like the ring of a bathtub makes a perfect candidate for research out of the area.
About Mars 2020
The Mars 2020 project is NASA’s next generation mission which is focussed on astrobiology (the study of life along the universe).
Armed with a new set of advanced scientific instruments, it’s aiming to take the heritage of NASA’s Curiosity further.
One curious detail about Mars 2020 is that the rover will pack some rock core samples and deposit them in metal tubes on the surface of Mars, but there is no plan for bringing them to Earth at the moment.