Photo tour of Jezero Crater: Here's where Perseverance will land on Mars

NASA is scheduled to land its Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter on Mars today (Feb. 18) and the agency chose the perfect spot for a touchdown: Jezero Crater. 

Jezero Crater is located in the so-called Isidis Planitia region, just north of the equator in the eastern hemisphere of Mars. This flat plain is located inside a giant 750-mile-wide (1,200 kilometers) basin that was carved out 3 billion to 4 billion years ago when a comet or big asteroid slammed into the Red Planet. A smaller meteorite, some time later, created Jezero within this larger impact basin. Evidence suggests a river once flowed into Jezero, where it formed a delta that has long since dried up, according to NASA. Here’s a look at Perseverance’s landing spot.

You can watch the Mars landing live here and on's homepage, courtesy of NASA, beginning at 2:15 p.m. EST (1915 GMT). The landing is expected at 3:55 p.m. EST (2055 GMT). 

Related: How to watch NASA's Perseverance rover land on Mars
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NASA's Perseverance Mars rover mission

Not alone

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Perseverance follows a line of successful Martian landings. For instance, the robotic spacecraft called Phoenix landed in a region of Mars' Vastitas Borealis on May 25, 2008, and operated until Nov. 2, 2008. That location was the equivalent of Alaska in terms of latitude. Then, on July 20, 1976, Viking 1 it became the second spacecraft to land on Mars. It was also the first lander to complete its mission successfully.

Ancient delta

(Image credit: ESA/DLR/FU-Berlin)

Here, the remains of an ancient delta in Jezero Crater, where Perseverance will scour for signs of fossilized microbes. The image was captured by the High Resolution Stereo Camera onboard the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter. 

Perseverance rover's Mars landing: Everything you need to know 

Ancient lake

(Image credit: NASA)

Perseverance has a landing target (white circle) that measures 4.8 by 4.1 miles (7.7 kilometers by 6.6 kilometers) in diameter inside Jezero Crater. The crater’s fan-shaped delta and rim can be seen in this image. Once upon a time, Jezero was a lake that was several hundred feet deep.

Clays and carbonates

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/JHU-APL)

Scientists choosing the spot for the Perseverance landing knew that Jezero contains sediments with clays and carbonates — evidence that water likely once carved the channels that then carried sediments to form deltas there. Water, being one of the necessary ingredients for life, is a promising sign that the rover may discover fossilized microbes. This image was taken by instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Mars mosaic

(Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / Tanya Harrison, CC BY-NC-ND 3)

Images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Context Camera were put together to create this high-resolution mosaic of Mars' Jezero Crater.

Extreme close-up

(Image credit: NASA HiRISE)

This close-up slice of Jezero crater reveals the beauty and intricacies of the basin on Mars.

Long-ago lake

(Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

In this illustration, you can see what Jezero Crater may have looked like billions of years when it was filled with a lake. There was likely an inlet and outlet on either side of the lake. Once the rover has landed, Perseverance will take samples to help scientists understand the planet’s geology and past climate. In fact, this will be the first mission to collect and save rocks and regolith from Mars.

Circle marks the spot

(Image credit: NASA)

The NASA team is targeting a certain area in Jezero Crater (blue ellipse) for landing. They chose the location with the mission of Perseverance in mind: They are seeking signs of ancient microbial life. To find those clues, Perseverance will collect samples of rock and regolith, or broken rock and dust. NASA

Where on Mars?

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Jezero Crater is located just above the Martian equator in the planet's easter hemisphere.

From the crater floor

(Image credit: NASA/MSSS/USGS)

This oblique view of Jezero looks to the west from above the crater floor, over the fan-shaped delta and into the valley that cuts through the crater rim. On Earth, such deltas often concentrate and preserve evidence of lift. Scientists hope the same is true on Mars. The same mosaic used to generate this view (shown here) will be carried onboard the Mars 2020 spacecraft; it will be used to help the craft steer clear of hazards such as cliffs and dune fields on the Martian surface. To create this mosaic, researchers aligned multiple images from the Context Camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Jeanna Bryner
Jeanna is the managing editor for LiveScience, a sister site to Before becoming managing editor, Jeanna served as a reporter for LiveScience and for about three years. Previously she was an assistant editor at Science World magazine. Jeanna has an English degree from Salisbury University, a Master's degree in biogeochemistry and environmental sciences from the University of Maryland, and a science journalism degree from New York University. To find out what her latest project is, you can follow Jeanna on Google+.