NASA loves teenager's idea on where to land next Mars rover

Washington: Looking for a landing site for the next Mars rover mission in 2020, the US space agency, among several recommendations, has approved a suggestion from a teenager who is yet to finish high school.

Alex Longo from Raleigh, North Carolina state, suggested that NASA should land the next rover at the same place where they landed rover Spirit in 2004 -- a place called Gusev Crater, reported on Monday.

After his first experience with space exploration in 2005 -- when he was just five years old -- Longo decided he not only wanted to go into space himself someday, he also wanted to be the first person to walk on Mars.

Longo started following NASA missions on the agency's website and in 2014 came across an announcement about the next rover mission to Mars.

"I saw that they were looking for abstracts from scientists to suggest landing sites. I decided, well, I'll write something up," he was quoted as saying. 

Longo wrote multi-page scientific document in which he proposed to land the next rover at the same place -- called Gusev Crater -- where NASA's rover Spirit had landed in 2004. 

NASA apparently agreed. They sent Longo an email inviting him to attend the first landing site planning meeting.

"I thought it was a dream or something. So I just got up, walked away and a while later I came back and that email was still there. And I was like, 'Wow, I actually just got invited to go to a NASA conference!' How cool is that?" Longo added.

Longo attended the conference at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas, in October 2015 and gave a presentation.

He is now teamed up with some more experienced Mars scientists who also favour going back to Gusev Crater.