NASA Unveils the Rover for ‘Mars Mission 2020’
The Mars 2020 rover, which is all set for the Red Planet next year is recently unveiled by NASA.
The Mars 2020 rover, which is all set for the Red Planet next year is recently unveiled by NASA. The challenging mission that is going to pave way for future human missions on Mars, besides searching for traces of ancient life on the planet.
The rover has been built in a large, sterile room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena near Los Angeles, where its driving equipments are ongoing tests since last week.
The rover is scheduled to leave Earth in July 2020 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, thus becoming the fifth US rover to land on the surface of the red planet in February next year, as the travel time is seven months.
The mission deputy leader Matt Wallace has also said, “It is designed to seek the signs of life, so we are carrying a number of different instruments that will help us understand the geological and chemical context on the surface of Mars”.
Among other devices, the rover onboard has 23 cameras, two ‘ears’, which is going to allow it to listen to Martian winds and lasers onboard will be used for chemical analysis. The size of the rover is approximately the size of a car and is equipped with six wheels, allowing it to traverse rocky and difficult terrain.
Speed is not much needed for the vehicle, as it has to cover around 200 yards per Martian day, which is approximately as same as a day on Earth. Fuelled through a miniature nuclear reactor, Mars 2020 also has seven-foot-long articulated arms and a drill fitted on it to crack open the rock samples in locations, scientists identify as potentially suitable for life.
Wallace also said, “What we are looking for is ancient microbial life, we are talking about billions of years ago on Mars, when the planet was much more like Earth. And so it was much more conducive to the types of simple single cell life that evolved here on Earth at that time.”
He also explained, back then, the Red Planet had warm surface water, a thicker atmosphere and a magnetic force around it.
If NASA is successful in this mission, it’ll plan its next mission to Mars in 2026 as Wallace informed, “We are hoping to move fairly quickly. We would like to see the next mission launched in 2026, which will get to Mars and pick up the samples, put them into a rocket and propel that sample into orbit around planet Mars. The sample would then meet with an orbiter and the orbiter would bring the sample back to the Earth for further research”.
China is also in this competition to reach planet Mars, recently it has launched some powerful rockets. The move is seen as one of the major step towards its own planned mission to Mars next year. The Mars mission 2020 of NASA will be active for one Martian year, which is around two years on Earth. The mission also carries hopes for an even more ambitious target, which is, a human mission to Mars.