NOV 01, 2017 7:23 AM PDT

NASA's Mars 2020 Rover Will Sport 20/20 Vision

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Mars is a captivating planet, so it isn't too surprising that space agencies have put as much time and effort as they have into studying the world up close with the assistance of orbiters and rovers.

Just a few years from now, NASA will extend its footprint on the red planet with the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. Armed with a plethora of compact cameras and sensors, they hope to grab more detailed observations thanks to progressions in modern imaging technology.

A glance at some of the sensors Mars 2020 will come equipped with.

Image Credit: NASA

Mars 2020 will be the most advanced Martian rover yet; equipped with 23 different optical sensors, it’ll have more cameras than any rover put on Mars before it. Comparatively, NASA cites the Curiosity rover as having just 17 cameras, while both the Opportunity and Spirit rovers had only 10 of them.

Most of the Mars 2020 rover’s cameras will reside on the exterior of the rover to study the planet while it makes its extensive trek, but one will live inside of the rover to analyze soil samples gathered along the way.

One of the cameras getting installed on the Mars 2020 rover’s chassis at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is the Mastcam-Z. It's an enhancement over the Curiosity rover’s Mastcam, as it has intensified zooming capabilities. NASA’s Justin Maki, a scientist familiar with the Mastcam-Z, had this to say:

“Camera technology keeps improving. Each successive mission is able to utilize these improvements, with better performance and lower cost.”

Related: China wants to send 13 different payloads to Mars by 2020

But the Mastcam-Z isn’t the only significant upgrade to Mars 2020; so are the engineering cameras. NASA says Mars 2020 will come standard with high-resolution 20-megapixel color Navcams and Hazcams, which are a step up from Curiosity’s 1-megapixel black and white cameras.

To accommodate for this augmented picture and video quality, Mars 2020 will include hardware and software upgrades to make sending the bigger data files back to Earth possible. Its communication equipment will see speed improvements, and its software will receive breakthrough compression methods to lessen file sizes and make it easier to beam said files back to Earth.

With technology becoming more cost-efficient and powerful at the same time, future rovers like Mars 2020 will begin to come standard with all the luxury features a planetary scientist could ask for. While it makes manufacturing the rover more time-consuming, it certainly pays off in the end as the extra work yields comprehensive views of the Martian surface and elevates our understanding of the worlds around us.

Mars 2020 is expected to launch by mid-2020, and we’re just as excited as those involved with the project to see what becomes of the mission.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAR 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 15, 2020
This Exoplanet Rains... Iron!?
Many of us take the Earth and its many ‘normal’ characteristics for granted, but there are so many exoplanet ...
MAR 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 29, 2020
United States Space Force Launches First Mission
Despite all the measures that are currently in place to keep as much of the general public away from public places as po ...
APR 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 14, 2020
Everything You Need to Know About the ESA's Upcoming JUICE Mission
Jupiter is one of the most interesting planets in our solar system, and with that in mind, it may not come off as much o ...
APR 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 26, 2020
Can Planets Be Larger Than Their Host Stars?
When you look at the confines of our solar system and notice just how large the Sun is when compared to Jupiter, the lar ...
APR 30, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 30, 2020
NASA's Laser Satellites Help Scientists Quantify Sea Ice Loss
Global climate change is melting Earth’s ice, and a recent study from NASA details how the polar ice sheets have c ...
MAY 18, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAY 18, 2020
Top Secret Military X-37B Space Plane Heads Back to Outer Space
Not much is known about the United States’ Space Force’s top-secret X-37B military space plane apart from th ...
Loading Comments...