ExoMars 2018 rover heading for Oxia Planum

Oxia_Planum_landing-ellipsesOxia Planum has been recommended as the primary candidate for the landing site of the ExoMars 2018 mission.  [HiRISE imaged the Oxia Planum landing site last summer.]

ExoMars 2018, comprising a rover and surface platform, is the second of two missions making up the ExoMars programme, a joint endeavour between ESA and Russia’s Roscosmos. Launch is planned for May 2018, with touchdown on the Red Planet in January 2019. (…)

Oxia Planum contains one of the largest exposures of rocks on Mars that are around 3.9 billion years old and clay-rich, indicating that water once played a role here. The site sits in a wide catchment area of valley systems with the exposed rocks exhibiting different compositions, indicating a variety of deposition and wetting environments.

A period of volcanic activity may have covered early clays and other aqueous deposits, offering preservation for biosignatures against the planet’s harsh radiation and oxidation environment, and have only been exposed by erosion within the last few hundred million years… [More at links]

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