New Mars rover by 2020
After an extensive review process and passing a major development milestone,the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is ready to proceed with final design and construction of its next Mars rover, currently targeted to launch in summer of 2020 and arrive on the Red Planet in February 2021.
The Mars 2020 rover will investigate a region where the ancient environment may have been favourable for microbial life, probing the rocks for evidence of past life. Throughout its investigation, it will collect samples of soil and rock, and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission.
“The Mars 2020 rover is the first step in a potential multi-mission campaign to return carefully selected and sealed samples of Martian rocks and soil to Earth,” said Geoffrey Yoder, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This mission marks a significant milestone in NASA’s Journey To Mars – to determine whether life has ever existed on Mars, and to advance our goal of sending humans to the Red Planet.”
To reduce risk and provide cost savings, the 2020 rover will look much like its six-wheeled, one-ton predecessor, Curiosity, but with an array of new science instruments and enhancements to explore Mars as never before. For example, the rover will conduct the first investigation into the usability and availability of Martian resources, including oxygen, in preparation for human missions. (phys.org)