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2018-10-22. Scientists Double Down on Landing Sites for Sample-Collecting Mars Rover.

posted Nov 1, 2018, 8:38 AM by Alan Gould
By Leonard David, Science Magazine. [https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientists-double-down-on-landing-sites-for-sample-collecting-mars-rover/] For GSS A Changing Cosmos chapter 7. Excerpt: NASA’s Mars 2020 mission could visit two locations where microbial life may once have thrived. For NASA’s Mars 2020 rover, now being assembled at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory for launch in July 2020, the stakes could not be much higher. The $2.4 billion nuclear-powered rover is the most complex piece of machinery to ever make a ballistic beeline for the Red Planet. And after it lands in February 2021, its completion of one high-profile objective—collecting rock samples for eventual transport back to Earth—would ensure the rover sets the course for future Mars exploration for decades to come. But first, mission planners have to decide where on Mars this ambitious machine should actually go....