Everything about getting to Mars is difficult, but if we’re going to go through the infamous “six minutes of terror,” that NASA scientists describe as the descent to the red planet, the least we can do is make the landing site as valuable for science — and terror-free! — as possible.
A flock of scientists and Mars enthusiasts are in Glendale, California this week for a three-day gathering dedicated to one purpose: debating with each other over the best landing & research area for the Mars 2020 rover.
The meeting is the fourth in four years that has resulted in the list of possible sites being whittled from 30 down to eight, and then to a final four. At the end of the third workshop in 2017, there were actually only three finalist sites — Columbia Hills, Jezero Crater, and Northeast Syrtis — but a fourth contender was brought forth by scientists this past July. It’s between Jezero Crater and Northeast Syrtis and named Midway.