Researchers from Europe and Russia have revealed the most promising landing site for their 2020 rover mission to Mars. The team behind the 2020 mission has recommended a spot known as Oxia Planum, which is where a large body of water is believed to have sat billions of years ago.
According to Daily Mail, this mission—and its final decision on a landing site—could finally find out if life has ever existed on planet Mars! The proposal has officially been submitted and is awaiting approval from ESA and Roscosmos prior to confirming the ExoMars landing site in mid-2019, prior to its 2020 launch. Although Oxia Planum has been the leading landing site, other areas of Mars have also been considered, including Mawrth Vallis, for similar reasons to that of Planum.
Considering both sites are quite rich with evidence leading to Mars’ watery paste, and sit exactly north of the equator, it makes for the ideal location to find out whether or not any life form has inhabited the planet before. Both sites are home to layers upon layers of clay-rich minerals, which can only mean one thing, the presence of water. The mission itself is scheduled to take place between July 25, and August 13 of 2020 atop a “Proton-M rocket for a long journey to Mars.”
Although it is launching in the summer of 2020, the rover itself will only arrive at the red planet in March 2021, nearly eight months after its launch. The ExoMars rover, will not only aid the current Mars rover in identifying life forms on the planet but will relay the data it collects back to Earth through what is called the ‘Trace Gas Orbiter’.
The mission itself involves quite a few risks, however, due to the combined skills and expertise of the countless European and Russian researchers working on the mission, it is expected to be a safe landing. The ExoMars is currently running tests ahead of its mission in order to verify all of its instruments and abilities to work on different types of terrain. With endless tests and a certain safe landing, this could create leaps for the world of space and science and an imminent discovery on whether life exists on Mars.