NASA has sent a lot of spacecraft to Mars to explore the red planet for clues about its formation and suitability for life, but the upcoming Mars 2020 rover promises to be more advanced than any other rover sent to Mars before it.
While it might look a lot like NASA’s Curiosity rover at first glance, Mars 2020 is far from a twin. Mars 2020 is set to come equipped with powerful new analytical equipment, such as a sample collection platform that will snag and jar samples of the Martian surface and stow them away for recovery and analysis in the future.
Mars 2020 will also sport dual computers, one that can track the rover’s movements and another that can focus on scientific operations. This dual-computer setup will enable Mars 2020 to move into more challenging terrains and navigate tricky landscapes more efficiently without compromising processing bandwidth.
For regions that are too tricky for the rover to navigate, Mars 2020 will deploy a small, softball-sized helicopter to explore captivating terrains from the sky. It will be solar-powered and remote-controlled, enabling it to move short distances from the rover and return after it has finished its duty.
Given the idea that Mars may have been a lot like Earth in its early history, planetary scientists are excited to get this show on the road. The rover promises to solve many mysteries about our planetary neighbor, bringing us one step closer to understanding whether the planet ever supported life and learning more about the formation of our solar system.