Mars 2020, the NASA’s next mars rover mission will be flying to the red planet in just a couple of years. This new Mars rover looks like its ancestor, curiosity mars rover.
Researchers adds seven new instruments with upgraded wheels in this rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. A drill examines rock cores for samples and a caching system that will use a robotic arm to seal up that material and then deliver on the martin surface.
However, the rover’s X-ray spectrometer will target spots. While ultraviolet laser will detect the excited rings of carbon atoms. A radar mapping layers of rock, water and ice up to 30 feet. With color cameras, a zoom lens and a laser that can vaporize rocks and soil to analyze their chemistry.
The Mars 2020 rover flies through space in its cruise stage, and then enter into a descent stage, sky crane, that will lower it towards the planet surface until it touches down.
However, the new rover heavily depends on the system designs and spare hardware. Around, 85 percent of the mass is based on this hardware.
The Mars 2020’s instruments will use pre-existing concepts in spite of a different mission objective to discover the evidence of life that could developed 3.5 billion years ago.
“The fact that so much of the hardware has already been designed or even already exists is a major advantage for this mission,” said Jim Watzin, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. “It saves us money, time and most of all, reduces risk.”
JPL is also developing a terrain-relative navigation, a landing technology. This technology will help the descent stage to safe landing sites. Also, it uses location and velocity to determine when to fire the spacecraft’s parachute.
Terrain-relative navigation enables us to go to sites that were ruled too risky for Curiosity to explore,” said JPL’s Mars 2020 entry, descent and landing lead Al Chen. “The range trigger lets us land closer to areas of scientific interest, shaving miles potentially as much as a year off a rover’s journey.”
Researchers said, this approach will be critical in guiding any future mission dedicated to retrieving the Mars 2020 samples.
Another breakthrough for this mission is site selection. Recently, researchers limited the list of landing sites from eight to three. Those three sites show different environments and may potentially shelter signs of past microbial life.
However, the 2020 science team will decide the advantages and disadvantages of each of these sites.