Europe and Russia reveal the landing site for their 2020 rover

Europe and Russia reveal the landing site for their 2020 rover

Scientists are narrowing down on the landing site for the upcoming mission that could finally find out if life ever existed on Mars.

Oxia Planum, where it's thought a large body of water sat billions of years ago.

ESA and Roscosmos wants to review the proposal before officially confirming the ExoMars landing site in mid-2019, ahead of the 2020 launch.

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According to ESA, Oxia Planum sits on the boundary of an ancient body of water. As a result, it is home to layers of clay-rich minerals. A texture map of Oxia planum is shown above

According to ESA, Oxia Planum sits on the boundary of an ancient body of water. As a result, it is home to layers of clay-rich minerals. A texture map of Oxia planum is shown above

Researchers have been looking into two candidate sites – Oxia Planum and Mawrth Vallis – for the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars rover.

Both sites are rich with evidence of Mars' watery past, and sit north of the equator.

'With ExoMars we're on a quest to find biosignatures,' says ESA's ExoMars 2020 project scientist Jorge Vago.

'While both sites have received the majority of their votes, they have been returned to the United Kingdom.

'An impressive amount of work has gone into characterizing the proposed sites, demonstrating that they meet the scientific requirements for the goals of the ExoMars mission.

'Mawrth Vallis is a scientifically interesting site that has been identified from orbit.'

Researchers have been looking into two candidate sites - Oxia Planum and Mawrth Vallis - for the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars rover. Both sites are rich with evidence of Mars' watery past, and sit north of the equator

Researchers have been looking into two candidate sites – Oxia Planum and Mawrth Vallis – for the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars rover. Both sites are rich with evidence of Mars' watery past, and sit north of the equator

Oxia Planum (close-up pictured), where it's thought a large body of water sat billions of years ago. ESA and Roscosmos wants to review the proposal before officially confirming the ExoMars landing site in mid-2019, ahead of the 2020 launch

Oxia Planum (close-up pictured), where it's thought a large body of water sat billions of years ago. ESA and Roscosmos wants to review the proposal before officially confirming the ExoMars landing site in mid-2019, ahead of the 2020 launch

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has already started working for signs of biological activity in Mars' atmosphere.

Researchers met at the National Space Center in Leister, UK for a two-day meeting to discuss the candidate sites.

According to ESA, Oxia Planum sits on the boundary of an ancient body of water.

As a result, it is home to layers of clay-rich minerals.

The mission is scheduled to launch between July 25 and August 13 of 2020 atop a Proton-M rocket for a long journey to Mars.

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has already started working for signs of biological activity in Mars' atmosphere. After the summer 2020 launch, the rover is expected to land on the red planet in March 2021

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has already started working for signs of biological activity in Mars' atmosphere. After the summer 2020 launch, the rover is expected to land on the red planet in March 2021

'With ExoMars we're on a quest to find biosignatures,' says ESA's ExoMars 2020 project scientist Jorge Vago. 'While both sites have been awarded the opportunity to have a look at the great things that have been done in Mexico, Oxia Planum received the majority of votes'.

'With ExoMars we're on a quest to find biosignatures,' says ESA's ExoMars 2020 project scientist Jorge Vago. 'While both sites have been awarded the opportunity to have a look at the great things that have been done in Mexico, Oxia Planum received the majority of votes'.

WHAT IS THE EXOMARS MISSION?

The main goal of ExoMars is to find out if life ever existed on Mars.

The spacecraft on which the Schiaparelli traveled to Mars, Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), carries a sample to study as gas as methane around the planet.

Scientists believe methane is a chemical that is tied to life.

The second part of the ExoMars mission, delayed to 2020, wants to deliver a rover to Mars' surface.

It wants to get across the planet's surface and drill into the ground to collect and analyze samples.

Schiaparelli designed to test technologies for the rover's landing in four years – but, it crashes into the red planet in October 2016.

It will arrive at the red planet in March 2021.

Rover laboratory is pictured inside test chamber

Rover laboratory is pictured inside test chamber

The Mars rover is now in a good position for testing all its instruments and its ability to take different types of terrain.

On the red planet, the ExoMars rover wants to relay the data back to Earth through the Trace Gas Orbiter.

'Our ExoMars mission combines extreme performance with the novel design features of the rover,' says Francois Spoto, ExoMars Program Team Leader.

'Landing on Mars has a long chain of risks, but thanks to the combined skills and expertise of European and Russian industries working with reliable technologies, we are focused on a safe landing.'

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