The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) revealed that in its Mars 2020 mission, it will deploy an unmanned rover to find signs of ancient microbial life on Mars. The new rover will be equipped with seven new instruments, have redesigned wheels, and provide more autonomy.
The new unmanned rover resemblances a lot to its predecessor, the Curiosity rover. It will be launched in July or August 2020.
A drill will be used to capture rock cores. Then, a caching system having a miniature robotic arm will be used to seal up these samples. Rock cores will be kept on the Martian surface and possibly picked up by a future mission.
“What we learn from the samples collected during this mission has the potential to address whether we’re alone in the universe,” said Ken Farley, a JPL scientist with the Mars 2020 project.
JPL is working on a new landing technology to enable rover to visit sites that are considered too risky for its predecessor, Curiosity. Moreover, the technology will cutoff few miles off the journey. A sky-crane will also be used in the Mars 2020 mission to conserve energy in the landing process.
The terrain-relative navigation will also be used in the landing process. This navigation system will enable the rover to carry out comparison between incoming terrain and surface maps in its database to select the most favorable landing spot.
According to Jim Watzin, Mars Exploration Program Director, the advancement of technology for exploring mars ‘reduces the risks with this launch.’