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I know it's (extremely) unlikely there is (& perhaps ever was) any life on Mars but having had a glance through the missions I can find I can't help thinking we've not really looked in the best places for it yet.

If I wanted to look for possible life on Mars I'd want to go to the equator (as it's warmest & gets most sunlight) & look for the lowest places I could find there for their slightly higher atmospheric pressure.

There's two spots that jump out at me as worth a look using those criteria.

  • A crater (I can't find the name for) at approximately 0°N 165°W

  • Where the Valles Marineris flows into the Northern hemisphere at approximately 0°N 35°W

You can find them both on this Topography map of Mars.

Other spots I might want to have a look at are the Melas Chasma (the deepest part of the Valles Marineris) & perhaps the Hellas Planitia (even if it is a bit far from the equator).

So, have there been missions to (or are any planned for) any of those?

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    $\begingroup$ related space.stackexchange.com/questions/12158/… and space.stackexchange.com/questions/1786/… $\endgroup$ – GremlinWranger Nov 29 '19 at 7:58
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    $\begingroup$ Vallis Marineris is of big interest and have been considered. But the main problems are precize landing and rough terrain. Curiosity rover had 20 x 7 km landing ellipse size, what is too big. Mars 2020 rover will test technologies of landing ellipse diminishing, such as Range Trigger (cut off parachute at optimal time) and Terrain-Relative Navigation (avoiding of rocky terrain during landing). These technologies are not mission-critical for 2020 rover. But if successful, they can enable a project of Vallis Marineris landing. $\endgroup$ – Heopps Nov 29 '19 at 8:46
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    $\begingroup$ Gale crater that is visited by Curiosity right now, is one of the deepest craters near the equator. And isn't it equally important to look for signs of (past) water like alluvial fans and clay units ? $\endgroup$ – Cornelisinspace Nov 29 '19 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ The crater on the equator you mentioned is named "Nicholson". $\endgroup$ – Cornelisinspace Nov 29 '19 at 11:14
  • $\begingroup$ Strictly speaking, Mars missions since Viking haven't been looking for life. All missions since then were/are searching for traces of past life and establishing a possibility life could exist by looking for water or other favorable conditions. Even the curiosity Rover isn't looking for life directly. $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Nov 29 '19 at 11:15

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