The saga of the NASA Mars rovers continues. Opportunity has given up the ghost. Curiosity ventures on. And, this summer Mars 2020 will join the charge. Mars 2020 and Curiosity look very much alike, but they are different in important ways. Let us count them.
Curiosity is exploring the Gale Crater, its landing site. It has been busy determining habitability of the crater in the past. And, it has determined that there was likely liquid water on the surface at some time in Mars’ ancient past. Now, it’s climbing to higher places in the foothills of Mount Sharp. But, Mars 2020 is going much further than that.
Mars 2020 will land in the Jerezo Crater. Its mission, and the biggest difference between it and Curiosity, is that it is very specifically looking for signs of life on Mars. It will keep rock and soil samples that will be brought back to Earth by a future mission to Mars. Space.com reported Friday.
Mars 2020 is beefed up in other ways. It will carry heavier equipment, bigger tires, better cameras and a drill that can take and keep complete core samples instead of ‘pulverizing’ them. Mars 2020 will also be equipped with two microphones, so we can listen to Mars. Yes. And, NASA scientists have given it a bigger brain for faster computing, quicker course calculation and better navigation. Did I mention the helicopter? Oh, yeah. It’s gonna deploy a freaking helicopter.
We can’t wait to see what more Mars 2020 can tell us about the red planet! Mars 2020 is set to land on the surface of Mars in February 2021.