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As the space agency counts down the days until its arrival, here's everything you need to know about the lander and its mission.

Even though the Red Planet is now cold and dry, the landing site, Jezero Crater, was filled with a 1,600-foot (500-meter) deep lake that opened to a network of rivers some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago. Coverage will start at 2PM ET, with live landing commentary and a feed from mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater will give the Mars 2020 mission an opportunity to study a lot of loose rock material, but water was also on NASA's mind when it picked the landing site.

Scientists have debated where to land the rover for the past four years, and whittled down their decision from more than 60 possible sites.

Scientists expect Mars 2020 to yield at least five different types of rock, including the kinds of clays and carbonates that are most likely to preserve chemical biosignatures.

But first, the rover has to make it to the surface intact and upright, dodging a field of boulders, sand traps and the edges of the delta.

Immediately after planting, the head of the mission Mars InSight STU, Spet, comes the 16-minute pause so that the dust in the area of the landing had subsided, and then begin the process of disclosure of solar panels, which will last 16 minutes.

Gale Crater, with its many layers of sediment, was chosen to tell the story of how Mars transitioned from a warm, wet planet to the frigid and dusty one it is today. "Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionise how we think about Mars and its ability to harbour life". The communication lag between Mars and Earth is eight minutes.

"The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology", said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate.

And in the 2020s, NASA's next rover is likely to be joined by the European Space Agency's first rover, which is part of the European-Russian ExoMars exploration campaign.

"Nothing has been more hard in robotic planetary exploration than landing on Mars", said Zurbuchen.


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