Jezero Crater, Mars 2020’s Landing Site


May 28, 2019


NASA’s Mars 2020 will land in Jezero Crater, pictured here. The image was taken by instruments on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which regularly takes images of potential landing sites for future missions.

On ancient Mars, water carved channels and transported sediments to form fans and deltas within lake basins. Examination of spectral data acquired from orbit show that some of these sediments have minerals that indicate chemical alteration by water. Here in Jezero Crater delta, sediments contain clays and carbonates.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

Last Updated: May 28, 2019

Editor: Yvette Smith


47 thoughts on “Jezero Crater, Mars 2020’s Landing Site

  1. Mars and Venus are examples of what happens if you leave nature to sort itself out. The only hope for Earth’s nature is that human beings will find out how to avert these disasters. Please, for the sake of our grand kids, support the necessary research.

      • I was only half kidding. Some folks think Mother Nature is some kind of omniscient benign entity. Mother Nature is neither. She’s kind of nasty. She actually doesn’t care if life on Earth ceases to exist.

        On the other hand, people do care about the living environment. Where they are prosperous enough to have a choice, people have demonstrated a wonderful willingness and ability to protect and expand the living environment.

          • In the case of people, she is batting 1000.
            Perfect record, 786, 374, 752 to 1.
            Single celled organisms and some plants seem to have figured out how to survive permanently, by dividing into two parts or by growing new shoots continuously.
            Maybe someone can invent human binary fission.

          • The only hope for Earth’s nature is that human beings will find out how to avert these disasters.

            Well she did a pretty good job for the first 3.5 billion years, why do you think she needs our help now during the pathetic amount of time our species is likely to last?

            Earth has developed an incredibly stable system that we would be wise no to touch. We are far more likely to create Mars or Venus if we start trying to play at God.

        • I’m doing my part.
          To release long-sequestered fertilizer and GHG back into the air, I’m burning as much hydrocarbons as my budget can allow for.

          • She don’t care either way. Genes try to survive & reproduce as best they can with no help from mother nature. In fact, every so often she messes some of those genes up so badly they all die. So, once in a blue moon, they don’t die and we call it evolution.

    • Good luck living in this environment that Nature sorted out for you.

      Mother Nature is and always has been a b$tch and us humans are merely hanging on for the ride as well as we can, as does every other creature on Earth.

    • But the our institutions of higher learning and the media have convinced our Earth Day Enviro’s that Gaia has a full nurturing breast filled with life giving properties and we evil people are killing her.

      They want mankind to die off so that Mother Earth can restore her goodness to the non-intelligent life forms including a few commune descendants of their hippie grandparents and all will travel through space in loving blissful ignorance forever or roughly 4.5 Billion years which ever comes first. Of course the Sun will snuff out Mother dirt along with her non-intelligent life forms long before the space ride comes to an end

      • In Greco-Roman times some peoples, mostly in Anatolia, practiced worshipping Cabela, a goddess symbolizing the nurturing Mother Nature, pictured as a woman with multiple breasts. All these peoples are extinct.

    • Damn right Bob! So let’s throw another log on the fire to stave off the ice a little while longer.

  2. Wind sculpting shouldn’t be discounted — what effect does 1,000,000 years of wind have on soft terrain?

    • Wind sculpting will not change the chemical composition of the materials. No, the evidence for liquid water on Mars is now much stronger than for CAGW on Earth. The big questions are: how long ago, and for how long was there extensive water on the surface of Mars. And of course, the big one, did any forms of live arise during that time?

  3. Amazing photograph.

    Doesn’t look like water was around on Mars’ surface for all that long, perhaps a few million years?

      • Amazing FAKE BS colours. No explanation from NASA what the false colours represent. They love screwing around with images like this since the actual image would be boring and would not get press coverage and click bait.

  4. Mars is still not woken up. Too cold to develop seas, atmosphere. Its supplies of water still buried frozen under dust layers it is just waiting for its chance.
    When Sun will increase its power output, Earth will be shifting out of habitable zone, but I think even earlier Mars will shift into the habitable zone.
    Its waters will melt, it will develop oceans, water cycle, atmosphere.
    I think there will be time where both planets will be habitable.

    • Peter,

      For that to happen, first something must change is Mars’ core to create a magnetic field or else that atmosphere you hypothesize will simply be blown away by the solar wind.

      The loss of the liquid metal core is the loss of the atmosphere – they go hand in glove.

      • Blowing of atmosphere is taking time. It can be hundred of million years, still long enough window of habitability.
        Venus atmosphere is still containing water after few billion years without magnetic field. I guess it had magnetic field for some time.
        Stripping of water from atmosphere is possible under one condition, that water vapors are able get to highest parts of atmosphere, where they can be stripped by solar wind.
        If water cycle is limited only to lower parts of atmosphere as on Earth where water cycle is up to 20km and atmosphere height is up to 100km water vapors are protected from solar wind and stripping of hydrogen is reduced.
        On Mars apparently there is similar water cycle in lower atmosphere and water is protected, but during dust storms atmosphere is heated more and water gets to upper parts and can be stripped.
        So my simple assumption is, that after warming and thawing of Mars dust storms will be reduced, so stripping will be reduced and Mars can keep its water for very long time.

        • If you look at the composition of Mars’ atmosphere, it’s pretty obvious why there’s not much water vapor. The primary ingredient is CO2, molecular weight 44.01. In fact, there’s more CO2 in Mars’ atmosphere than there is in the Earth’s, about eight times more. And since Mars is substantially smaller than Earth, there’s 54 times more CO2 per unit surface area on Mars than Earth. Next is N2, molecular weight 28.01, followed by Ar, atomic weight 39.95. Compare those to water vapor, molecular weight 18.02. The mean molecular velocity of water molecules would be 1.56 times that of the major constituent, CO2, and large numbers of water molecules would have enough velocity to loft considerably above the rest. Getting hit by a solar proton or cosmic ray would be more than sufficient to launch the water molecule, probably in pieces, to escape velocity (which is much lower than Earth’s). Over a few billion years, it adds up.

          I’m not convinced that there’s a lot of water left on Mars. But there’s a gigantic amount orbiting Saturn, and it would be possible (with nuclear thermal propulsion) to move large quantities of it onto a path to collide with Mars.

          That, or something similar, would probably be required to make Mars habitable again. It won’t be done by my generation (I’m 65), or by the next one….

    • All Mars needs is a big enough rock hitting it. Ceres would be an overkill- or a much smaller rock would be enough.
      But other thing which could fix Mars, is humans.
      Humans could aim space rock to hit Mars, but if human live on Mars surface, they probably don’t very big space rocks impacting the planet.
      Without relying on hitting Mars with something big, human might find large amount water in the Mars crust, and pump some of it to surface to create lakes which life could live in.

      • Actually thinking about that, problem of Mars is not lack of water. I think there is still all its water buried in crust. Problem is lack of carbon and CO2. You can find on internet that Venus and Earth started with probably same amount of CO2 atmosphere around 100 bars. In Earth case this atmosphere was consumed to create carbonates by biological processes. In Venus case it is still all there. In Mars case, it is probable that it started with similar amount as Venus and Earth. But because of Mars small gravity it was stripped during eons.
        In Earth case this dense CO2 atmosphere kept it warm in times when Sun was 40% weaker than now and now we are where we are.
        Mars does not have enough CO2 now to keep it warm (not speciality of CO2 any gas would do as N2, O2). It would need around 2 bars of CO2 atmosphere. For such pressure it does not have enough carbon. It does not have enough carbon for life cycle either. There is enough water but carbon is missing. It could be stored in crust, but not extracted by missing volcanic activity.

  5. Jezero (?!) Crater
    Jezero = Lake ( in number of Slavic languages) , ‘not a lot of people know that’

    • On another astronomical matter, a tiny SC25 sunspot (high latitude and correct magnetic orientation) popped out in last day or so, easily visible on the magnetogram, but on the HMI Continuum only at the largest magnification (see I’m surprise that the SIDC assessed it to be ‘13’ points (2019 05 29 2019.407 13), while earlier in the month there were two relatively large spots with combine max of ‘30’ points (2019 05 11 2019.358 30).
      Something odd about the ‘new system’ of the assessing sunspot count.

      • Here you can see what I am talking about
        these are two high resolution images, so you are invited to zoom in for more details and judge by yourself is the sunspot number count on 29th of May as large as 43% of the one on 11th of May.
        I don’t think it is or it should not be, so I’m not sure that the method used is appropriate.
        Is Dr. Svalgaard about?

        • I guess the system is not new because SILSO is very traditional. As groups count 10, the minimum count is 11 (1 group formed by a single sunspot), so 13 is a very low count, and it is three times less than 30 which comes from two groups formed by 10 sunspots.

          It doesn’t sound rational but I don’t rush to judgement as I am no expert on the issue. The important thing is that the counting is consistent over time.

          So far the evidence suggests the solar minimum has already taken place, as it is already 3 months with more sunspots than any month since last June. Of course that could change if the activity is very low over the next months, but I am sticking to the evidence as I always try to do. 10.7 cm flux confirms solar activity has been increasing since November.

        • About 7 +/- years ago, Leif explained the counting, with drawings and images.
          Numerous readers at that time participated in the “classroom” exercise. He was quite patient with those that participated.
          Since then, I’ve left the counting to the folks that get paid to do it, knowing that others are watching.

          • Hi JFH
            Well, I wish someone would pay me for anything (for everything would be even more desirable) that I write here or elsewhere.
            Look at the images, I challenge you to find relevant sunspot in the second (today’s) image, that represent 40% of solar activity shown in one of 18 days ago.
            Climate date experts use to say that the daily max/min temperature readings from the weather station located next to two London Heathrow airport’s runways (with planes landing and taking off every 30 sec.) are perfectly good data.
            The ancient scepticism was based on the suspension of judgement due to the inadequacy of evidence, while the more recent Cartesian says that ‘any proposed knowledge claim can be doubted’, you pay your money and take your choice, or none.

  6. Jezero means lake in several Slavic languages. I wonder if they think the crater is old enough to have had a lake in its center. That’d be cool if they can find evidence of ancient life. At the time there was an ocean in Mars there was already life on Earth.

    • Looking at the channel and classic delta pattern going from left to right in the photo, I am assuming the crater is actually in a former lake bed. In fact it looks like it carved out a hole in a major deposition arm of the delta. It could be a good place to study how the delta was deposited and give a view of the whole history of the water flows in the region.

  7. Here’s a link to the high res image of the Jezero crater on the NASA site:
    If you zoom in on the image, you can see extensive visual indications of wind blown dunes at many locations, with the prevailing wind moving from left to right across the image. The Jezero crater lies within what appears to be an ancient river alluvial fan or delta. The floor of the Jezero crater itself has extensive dune coverage. This is a very interesting site, from a geology, hydrology and wind erosion perspective!

  8. It might be long time if ever, any humans visit Jezero Crater, however you could do worse than visit the picturesque outskirts of its namesake Jezero (B&H) and its water mills
    About 50 miles away is the unique dozen lakes cascade of
    Plitvica Lakes
    Not far away lives WUWT’s commentator Edim B.

  9. Robotics is the only way we’ll ever explore the planets and asteroids. Aside from short duration missions to the Moon like Apollo, the radiation beyond LEO is too lethal for us biologics to stay out beyond the Van Allan for the extended time needed for a manned Mars trip. The amount of shielding for crew living and work compartments needed to allow such a mission is beyond realistic.

    NASA’s manned-Mars mission is currently envisioned at 900 days (30 months). 200 days each way, with 500 days in Mars orbit and on the surface.

    By my assessment of the NASA Twins Study and other relevant physiologic and radiation environment dosages during Earth-Mars transit, the astronauts would likely be suffering various levels of cardiac arrhythmias, vision degradation due to damaged retinas, and cognitive issues (inability to concentrate and sleep disturbances leading to chronic fatigue) by the time the reached Mars, and steadily worsening. After 500 days, most if not all of the crew would be dead or incapacitated. A robotic return function on the return vehicle would bring the corpses back to Earth orbit for recovery.

  10. As a gold prospector, I would love to wave my gold detector over those Martian alluvial outwash deposits.

    Hmmm! Lets see now – I’ve got an old hot air balloon under the house somewhere – – –

    Wish me luck – I’ll see you good people later – – -!

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