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
NOV 14, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Bacteria Make Space Mining 400% More Effective
NOV 14, 2020
Bacteria Make Space Mining 400% More Effective
Researchers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have shown that bacteria can increase space mining efficiency b ...
NOV 20, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The Passing of a Neutrino Hunting Pioneer
NOV 20, 2020
The Passing of a Neutrino Hunting Pioneer
Masatoshi Koshiba, a revered Japanese physicist known for his groundbreaking work on cosmic neutrino detection, passed a ...
DEC 03, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Health Issues from Spaceflight Caused by Mitochondria
DEC 03, 2020
Health Issues from Spaceflight Caused by Mitochondria
Spending an extended time in space is known to impact various aspects of health, from muscle and bone regeneration to th ...
MAR 09, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Meteorite Parked in UK Driveway May Hold Clues to Planet Formation, Early Life
MAR 09, 2021
Meteorite Parked in UK Driveway May Hold Clues to Planet Formation, Early Life
Hayabusa2 and OSIRIS-REx have spent years trying to intercept asteroids & collect samples. This meteor made it a little ...
APR 21, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
New Pulsar Detected in Southern Hemisphere
APR 21, 2021
New Pulsar Detected in Southern Hemisphere
A new pulsar has been discovered with images from the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope, a low-frequency radio t ...
MAY 07, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Did Scientists Just Find Mushrooms on Mars?
MAY 07, 2021
Did Scientists Just Find Mushrooms on Mars?
While experts agree that most life on Earth would not be able to survive on Mars, NASA researchers have previously sugge ...
Loading Comments...