Where to land on Mars? NASA has decided on its next mission, which lands in 2021.
Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS
NASA is ready to announce which of the four finalists it has selected as the landing site for the Mars 2020 route, which is to reach the Red Planet in 2021 and we all will learn more on Monday (November 19th).
The organization will announce its selection at a teleconference news conference Monday at 12 pm EST (1700 GMT). The sounds and visuals from the announcement will be available to watch here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, or directly on the organization's website.
The announcement follows a workshop held in October, where hundreds of scientists were listening to presentations about the strengths and concerns of each candidate. At the end of this meeting, the participants voted for their preference and the overall results of this vote were sent as a recommendation for NASA to consider in its final decision-making process.
It is a serious decision, as the cyclist Mars 2020 has a number of interesting scientific goals to deal with. The mission is designed to look for elements of possible ancient life on Mars and to collect and store samples that a future NASA mission could bring a day back to land laboratories.
The four candidate sites are named Columbia Hills, Crater Jezero, Northeast Syrtis and Midway. (The latter one, a late race rider, is located between Crater Jezero and northeast Syrtis and has raised the hopes of scientists that they could possibly integrate both destinations into the same mission.)
Every area has been carefully assessed for security risks – landing on Mars is known to be difficult and there is no reason to risk an expensive spacecraft by choosing a contact point that is even more at risk – and geological interest in nearby rocks.
But which site will win? Tune in on Monday to find out!