Almost one year ago, NASA announced that the Mars 2020 rover would explore an area which is known as the Jezero Crater.
The Jezero crater is a fascinating area with a rich alluvial sediment fan that was deposited by a river. It is thought that the sediment may contain ancient organic molecules that could prove that Mars may have sustained life at some point in the past.
Within the crater, there is also something a bit more difficult to spot but very valuable: a ring or carbonates that could keep interesting fossils. The Mars 2020 rover ups the stakes of research in comparison to previous rovers. Curiosity and Spirit were sent to the Red Planet to search for water, and they fulfilled the mission beyond the expectation of the researchers.
The Mars 2020 rover will explore the Martian surface in an attempt to track down traces of microbial life. For this purpose the researchers selected the Jezero Crater thanks to a large number of favorable traits and features. It is an ancient area where a lake could be found in the past, and it packs fascinating landforms, including a river delta.
Carbonates can favor the existence of high-endurance fossils that can persist for a long time. On Earth, some fossils have managed to survive for billions of years, and among them we can mention seashells, coral, and stromatolites. As the Jezero Crater used to be filled with water, scientists are confident that the carbonate ring around the edge of the crater could contain fossils.
The location was selected after several years of intense research and simulations, as current data infers that it is the best choice for the aim of the rover.
If Mars hosted life in the past, it is likely that the researchers could find stromatolites within the crater. It remains to be seen if the rover will manage to track down any fossils after it lands on the planet.