NASA has been exploring the unknown terrains of the red planet with robotic rovers for almost two decades. The first to land was the Pathfinder rover in 1997, and the most current is the Curiosity rover, which landed in 2012.
NASA is now thinking ahead with even more modern technology, and is getting ready to prepare Rover 2020, an updated robotic rover that NASA wants to use to search the red planet for signs of life.
Image Credit: NASA
The rover’s nickname “Rover 2020” comes from the fact that NASA wants to launch the mission in Summer of 2020. The rover would take about a year to get to the red planet, and likely wouldn’t begin exploration until 2021.
Rover 2020 will have a lot of the same design as Curiosity, mostly because NASA realizes that Curiosity has a very reliable design.
"Since Mars 2020 is leveraging the design and some spare hardware from Curiosity, a significant amount of the mission's heritage components have already been built during Phases A and B," said George Tahu, Nasa Mars 2020 program executive.
On the other hand, the instruments that measure the environmental aspects of the red planet, the cameras that film it, the communication equipment, and even the power equipment, will be all new and improved.
One of the things that Rover 2020 will get that no other Mars rover had in the past is a microphone, which means that for the first time, we’ll get to see what certain things sound like on the red planet.
Additionally, it will have other special abilities, like a better drill and ground-penetrating radar so we can see below Mars’ surface for additional signs of life.
But no… that’s not all. NASA is also going to try and test a device that can produce oxygen, which will help us know whether or not future habitation of the red planet will be possible, and we’ll also be collecting soil samples and attempting to return them to Earth for the first time.
NASA is currently racing to complete the rover on time. If they don’t reach the Summer 2020 launch window, there will be a delay of a couple of years.
It should be very interesting to see what kind of information NASA can collect with their new rover in just a few more years.
Source: NASA via Gizmodo