The NASA Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, which surveys the Red Planet regularly, has spotted several signs which infer that fossils could be found on the surface of Mars.
NASA plans to launch the 2020 Mars rover soon and used the Orbiter to scan the landing location, which is known as the Jezero Crater. Data collected during the process infers that hydrated silica can be found inside the crater. This particular mineral poses great potential since it can preserve fossils in a great state.
Silica is a crystal that contains silicon and oxygen, and it can be found quite often in materials like quartz, glass, and sand. One of its excellent traits stems from the fact that hydrated silica can store water within the crystalized structure, and it can be found across a large selection of environments. It is also very tough and can withstand harsh conditions.
Mars 2020 rover to target a potential fossil site on Mars
The Mars 2020 rover follows some of the design elements used by the Curiosity rover. The size is on par with that of a car, but it is quite lightweight at 2,314 pounds (or 1,050) kilograms.
It will be powered by a computer model known as the Rover Compute Element or RCE. Two RCE units will be installed, with one being a backup if the default one will no longer work. The RCE will handle data traffic, the information collected by tools, and other tasks. It has a speed of 200 megahertz, ten times bigger in comparison to the ones present on Spirit and Opportunity.
Twenty-three cameras are present on the rover, and they will perform a variety of tasks, including the aim to capture impressive images from the surface of the planet and inside the crater where it will land. It will also sport a long robotic arm, which can be used to collect samples. Mars has piqued the interest of many researchers and private companies in the last years.
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