Ken Farley, project scientist for Mars 2020 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said: "The Mars community has long coveted the scientific value of sites such as Jezero Crater, and a previous mission contemplated going there, but the challenges with safely landing were considered prohibitive".
NASA and the European Space Agency are studying future mission concepts to retrieve the samples and return them to Earth, so this landing site sets the stage for the next decade of Mars exploration.
But Jezero came out a victor as it offers promising sampling targets of at least five kinds of rock, including clays and carbonates that have high potential to preserve signatures of past life, as revealed by NASA in a press statement.
"It's a Thursday", said Allen Chen, who's leading the entry, descent and landing team for what's now known as NASA's Mars 2020 rover. Unlike the space agency's rovers, InSight is a lander created to study an entire planet from just one spot.
The crater was chosen after a five-year search that examined some 60 other sites on Mars.
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Jezero Crater is thought to be the site of an ancient river delta on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator. Midway and Northeast Syrtis are close enough that it's possible the Mars 2020 rover could eventually roll that way from Jezero Crater, although mission managers say it's way too early to decide whether to do so.
The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered Mars 2020 rover is built on the same basic design as NASA's Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars' Gusev Crater for more than six years.
Named WALL-E and EVE after the main characters in the 2008 animated movie, the twin CubeSats will pass within a few thousand miles (kilometres) of Mars as the lander attempts its dicey touchdown. For 728 earth days mission in NASA expect to remove the unit for about 29 GB of data that may shed light on the evolution of rocky planets, including Earth.
The lander will dig deeper into Mars than ever before, reaching a depth of roughly 5 metres.
Unlike the Curiosity and the Opportunity rovers sent as part of NASA's program to study the surface of the planet, the InSight's objective is to dig deep and listen for quakes. Insight will try to answer crucial scientific questions on Mars interior and how it is different from the one of our planet.