NASA will land its Mars 2020 Rover on the red planet's Jezero Crater for a mission to search for past microbial life and gather rock and soil samples.
The space agency said Tuesday it evaluated over 60 potential landing spots before selecting the Jezero Crater, a former location of an ancient river delta.
Scientists say that the crater may have maintained ancient organic molecules and microbial life evidence in clays and carbonates currently within the area.
The Jezero Crater is also part of Mars' Isidis Planitia, a large impact basin geographically above the planet's equator.
“The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate.
The mission will begin in July 2020 with United Launch Alliance providing the launch vehicle.