The rover that NASA is on the brink of ship to Mars in 2020 seems lots just like the Curiosity rover that’s been working on Mars for virtually 5 years – besides for that freakishly large robotic arm.
The arm is among the keys to the rover’s extra bold mission: to show up potential traces left behind by historical life on the Purple Planet, and to tuck away samples for eventual return to Earth.
The six-wheeled robotic, constructed on the identical kind of chassis used for Curiosity, is due for launch in the summertime of 2020 towards one among three websites: Northeast Syrtis Main, Jezero Crater or Columbia Hills.
NASA most likely received’t determine which web site to focus on for one other yr or two, however within the meantime, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory put out a new artist’s concept exhibiting the 2020 rover at a Martian work web site. The positioning proven within the image truly seems lots like Curiosity’s stomping grounds in Gale Crater.
Like Curiosity, the yet-to-be-named 2020 rover will be powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator that would maintain it going for years and years. However the 2020 rover kicks issues up a notch by carrying an imager that may detect the presence of natural compounds in rocks and soil from a distance, and a spectrometer that detects natural compounds utilizing an ultraviolet laser.
The information from such instruments might assist scientists transcend the questions that Curiosity has been in a position to reply (for instance, “Was Mars ever probably liveable?”) and decide whether or not microbial life left behind recognizable traces above or under the floor.
The drilling machine on the 2020 rover’s monster arm is designed to gather about 30 core samples from essentially the most promising rocks and soil and set them apart in a cache, for return to Earth by a mission but to be decided.
However wait … there’s extra: The European House Company is about to ship its own rover to the Purple Planet in 2020. So are the Chinese. And through the identical time-frame, SpaceX is planning to ship a whole Red Dragon capsule, probably weighing eight instances as a lot as NASA’s rover.
If Earthlings begin quadruple-teaming Mars floor exploration, will we quadruple our charge of progress towards answering the large questions on life on Mars? We’ll discover out in 2021.