The next rover NASA will send to Mars in 2020 will carry seven carefully-selected instruments, including one that will be able to make oxygen. NASA
NASA's next Mars rover will carry seven instruments, including one that will be able to make oxygen on Mars.
"The 2020 rover will help answer questions about the Martian environment that astronauts will face, and test technologies they need before landing on, exploring and returning from the Red Planet," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington.
Among those technologies is the The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), which will pull carbon dioxide out of Mars's atmosphere and convert it into oxygen. Scientists hope oxygen produced on Mars could one day be used to make rocket fuel or be breathed by human explorers.
Another instrument on the rover, the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), will be able to provide detailed weather measurements, including information about the size and shape of the dust blowing around on Mars.
The rover's toolkit also includes:
The instruments are designed to help the rover team choose a location to drill a sample that can be stored, either aboard the rover or in a sealed container, and eventually carried back to Earth for analysis. Unlike the samples drilled by its predecessor, Curiosity, that were ground up, the 2020 rover will take a solid, unbroken cylinder or core.
The Mars 2020 rover mission is the followup to the Curiosity or Mars science laboratory rover, which landed on Mars in August 2012.
The toolkit was chosen by NASA from 58 proposals — double the number received in past competitions.