Seeking Habitable Conditions And Life!

The NASA Mars 2020 mission continues the American space agency’s long history of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also search for signs of past microbial life itself! The Mars 2020 rover will launch aboard an Atlas V rocket in July/August 2020, arriving 7-8 months later.

Mars 2020 Quick Summary Facts!

  • Type:  Rover
  • Destination:  Mars
  • Status:  Planned
  • Launch Location:  Cape Canaveral, Florida
  • Launch Date:  July/August 2020
  • Arrival Date:  February 2021
  • Mission Duration:  2 years + (1 Martian year)

Learn About NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover Mission

The Mars 2020 rover mission continues NASA's exploration of Mars and follows on from the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity Rover) which has been searching for signs of water on the Red Planet. With evidence of a wet past Mars being found. The logical next step is to search for signs of microbial life.

The Mars 2020 rover has four primary science objectives;

  • Search for signs of habitable conditions in the ancient past
  • Seek signs of past microbial life on Mars
  • Cache rock core and soil samples for a possible future mission
  • Demonstrate technologies for future human exploration

To achieve these objectives the Mars 2020 rover will be constructed of proven technology, in addition to new sensors, onboard analysis equipment and high powered cameras.

The Mars 2020 rover will utilize a new rock core drill to collect core samples of particularly promising samples and collect them into a "cache". A possible future mission may then return them to Earth for analysis with more powerful equipment.

The Mars 2020 rover will also possess new technologies to test a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere which is largely carbon dioxide. The rover will also carry sophisticated climate monitoring equipment to gain a better understanding of the current Martian environment.

The mission is planned to lift-off in the middle of 2020 during a launch window when the Earth and Mars are in an optimal position which requires less launch energy and shorter cruise times. This launch window opens every 26 Earth months.

In an effort to keep mission costs and risks down (the Mars 2020 rover mission is already forecast to cost $2.1 billion USD!), the Mars 2020 rover is largely based on the Curiosity rover. This includes its proven landing system and its remarkable "skycrane manoeuvre" which will lower the 950 kg (2,100 lbs) rover in the final seconds for a soft landing.

 
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