NASA Announced that The Next Mars Rover Will Have Better Lasers and X-Ray Vision
About NASA: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the United States government agency that is responsible for the civilian space program as well as for aeronautics and aerospace research.President Dwight D. Eisenhower established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958 with a distinctly civilian orientation encouraging peaceful applications in space science.
The Curiosity rover (NASA called it Mars Science Laboratory) has been an immensely successful mission so far. Though it landed on Mars less than two years ago, the SUV-sized rover has detected evidence that the Red Planet was once warm and flowing with drinkable water, suggesting it may have been able to support life in its past and according to some scientists, it may still today.
Now NASA is planning the next mission to Mars and today the agency announced the gadgets that will be riding on a new rover that launches in 2020.
The future rover will be similar to Curiosity in its design. It will utilize the same vehicle framework and landing technique, and the mission will have similar objectives: To search for evidence of habitable conditions or even life on ancient Mars.
Currently the mission is being called as The Mars 2020 rover (until NASA can give it a better name), is a twin of the Curiosity rover currently on Mars. This duplication allows NASA to save money because they already had a spare machine sitting around, but Mars 2020 won’t just be carrying repeats of Curiosity’s state-of-the-art gadgets. Instead, the probe will be building on the scientific discoveries from Curiosity, preparing to return samples of Mars to Earth, and even paving the way for future human exploration. Here’s a breakdown of all the rover’s new gear.
Curiosity 2.0 is getting some equipment upgrades. Here are a some highlights of Curiosity:
SuperCam: This includes a green laser beam that can determine a rock’s composition–including whether or not it contains organic elements from up to 40 feet away. A high-resolution camera allows us to see a human hair from several feet away, said SuperCam project leader Roger Wiens, “Not that we’d expect to find any of those on Mars.”
Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry(PIXL): This instrument will use an X-ray beam to scan the detailed chemical makeup of a rock, in order to look for potential bio-signatures. PIXL will provide capabilities that permit more detailed detection and analysis of chemical elements than ever before.
The Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Exploration(RIMFAX): This ground-penetrating radar system will see below the Mars surface to look for groundwater or other interesting geological structures. It will provide centimeter-scale resolution, although the precise depth to which it can scan depends on the local geologic conditions. The RIMFAX project leader has not given us any numbers yet.
Drill: The new rover’s drill will dive deeper beneath the surface, where some scientists think microbes could be living today.
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