NASA creates a rover for the next Martian mission

NASA creates a rover for the next Martian mission

This is an artistic vision of the Mars-2020 Mars rover studying rock of the planet. The mission will not only engage in the study of habitable territory, but also try to find signs of past microbial life

In just a couple of years, the next Martian mission will go to the Red Planet. It seems that the new rover is similar to the Curiosity, but this unit is more prepared for scientific research: 7 new tools, updated wheels and increased autonomy. The drill will be able to wade through the rocks, and the caching system will save samples.

New equipment is being developed at NASA (Pasadena) Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This includes the creation of a landing stage using a rocket engine for safe descent to the surface.

Basically, the design of the Mars-2020 is based on spare parts for Curiosity, planted in 2012. Approximately 85% of the mass of the rover is based on it. This is an important point, because the use of finished parts has significantly reduced costs and production time.

Despite the external similarity, the new mission pursues other tasks: the search for ancient life and the study of inhospitable terrain, where lakes were present 3.5 billion years ago. To do this, it was equipped with a special set of instruments: an X-ray spectrometer, a UV laser and a primary radar capable of wading under the surface for 10 m. Let's not forget about color cameras, an enlarged lens and a laser evaporating the soil and stones for chemical analysis.

In addition, they plan to drill at least 20 holes, and, if possible, bring the number to 40 to leave the samples and return them to Earth. Also developed a new technology of landing - navigation through the landscape. As you descend, computer vision is activated in order to compare the real landscape with the cartographic one. This will help you choose the safest location and determine the best time to use the parachute.

It remains to choose the preferred landing site. Of the 8 proposals put forward, they consider 3. They all differ in environment, but can have life: an ancient lake, warm waters, and possible hot springs. The final decision will be announced only in a year.

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