NASA is ready to start the work on the 2020 Mars rover that will be sent to discover life on the Red Planet. The agency officials announced the beginning of the project that will end in 2020 with a new space launch.
At this moment, the 2020 Mars rover is not yet designed. However, the device will have to reach the planet in February 2021. The landing place still needs to be determined.
The mission will take at least two years, during which time the spacecraft will have to explore the surface of Mars and try to find any signs of life.
The Red Planet is quite cold, with low water quantities, and full of radiations. However, there are areas on the surface that could offer a more friendly environment.
In that matter, the Curiosity rover discovered a crater that could have been habitable some billions of years ago. The hole seemed to have contained a lake and a stream.
Other missions identified areas with similarly favorable conditions, including the presence of water and warmer temperatures.
The 2020 Mars rover will look for signs of past life on the planet. Another objective of the mission will be to take samples in order for the scientists back on Earth to analyze them and use the results in future space missions.
One of the administrators of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA states that the 2020 mission will be part of a campaign that will involve Mars soil analysis. The final part of the project will be to send humans to Mars again. In order to do so, the scientists need more information on the planet and its characteristics.
The Mars rover will be carrying MOXIE, a Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resources Utilization Experiment. The instrument will create oxygen from the chemicals included in the Martian atmosphere. The NASA scientists want to test in the 2020 mission the next technologies that will be used by humans on a future Mars trip.
Another device that will be employed in the mission will be a ground-penetrating radar that can help analyzing the underground structure of Mars. A SuperCam will contribute to analyzing rock composition by vaporizing them with laser strikes and testing the particles released into the atmosphere.
The rover will be equipped with high-resolution cameras, spectrometers, and a weather station. Their primary purpose will be to detect organic molecules, which are the premises for life.
NASA will use Curiosity as a model and for parts. The 2020 mission will have almost half the cost of the previous Curiosity trip. Moreover, the new rover will use the parachute leading system that helped Curiosity land in 2012. Small adjustments will be made, like a more precise parachute control.
An unusual adagio to the mission will be a microphone. Even if the previous missions have included sound recording devices, the 2020 trip to Mars will be the first one to register sounds. The researchers hope to gain additional engineering information.
Image Source: Wikipedia
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