Jezero Crater: 8 otherworldly images of the Perseverance landing site
NASA's Perseverance rover is getting ready to land on Mars and begin its search for clues to ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.
For its landing site, NASA selected a 28-mile wide, 1,600-foot deep crater located in a basin slightly north of the Martian equator.
These 8 images give us an in-depth look at where the rover is heading.
Jezero Crater once housed a lake estimated to have dried out 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago, making it an ideal location to look for signs of past life on Mars.
"Jezero" is Slavic for "lake." It is correctly pronounced yeh-zuh-doh.
Jezero Crater was formed after an ancient meteorite crashed into Mars, leaving behind a large crater within the Isidis Planitia region of the planet.
The ancient lakebed was discovered in 2007. The crater was named after a village in Bosnia, which was once home to a lake similar to the one that was once in Jezero Crater.
Billions of years ago, river channels spilled over the wall of Jezero Crater, creating the lake. Evidence collected by missions sent to Mars over the past few years have shown that water carried clay minerals from the surrounding area into the crater lake.
On Earth, these types of clays are found in the Mississippi River delta, where microbial life is embedded in the rock itself.
This makes scientists believe that if Mars had microbial life, it could have lived in Jezero at some point during its early history when the planet was a warm, wet world.
If some form of life ever existed in Jezero Crater, then evidence for it may be found in the lakebed or shoreline sediments.
NASA / JPL-Caltech
If Perseverance is able to find evidence for life in Jezero, it could confirm that life has occurred beyond Earth — and may even be abundant in the universe.