Mars 2020 Rover
NASA announces Mars 2020 rover's scientific instruments.
A Mars rover is an automated motor vehicle which propels itself across the surface of the planet Mars upon arrival.
Rovers have several advantages over stationary landers: they examine more territory, they can be directed to interesting features, they can place themselves in sunny positions to weather winter months and they can advance the knowledge of how to perform very remote robotic vehicle control.
The 2020 Rover's toolkit
- Mastcam-Z, a camera system with zoom capabilities that will allow the rover to more easily plan its route.
- SuperCam, which will image and determine the chemical composition and mineralogy of rocks. It will also be able to detect organic molecules.
- Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), which will be able to detect the elemental composition of rocks on a fine scale.
- Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), which will also be used to look at the fine-scale mineralogy of rocks and detect organic compounds, using a different analytical technique from PIXL.
- The Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX), ground-penetrating radar that will be able to probe the geology under the surface of Mars.
- The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), which will pull carbon dioxide out of Mars's atmosphere and convert it into oxygen.
- 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 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.
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