NASA announced Tuesday that it plans to launch its next-generation Mars mission rover in July 2020. NASA has revealed that the rover will not only look for traces of life on Mars, but will also pave the way for future space exploration missions such as human landings on Mars. NASA’s new seven-year Mars 2020 rover was reportedly successfully tested for the first time last week. NASA plans to send it to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final assembly in February 2020 and launch in July.
If all goes well, the Mars rover will land at the Jezzero Crater on Mars in February 2021, becoming the fifth U.S. rover to land on Mars. Nasa is believed to have discussed the landing site of the Mars 2020 mission for years, with the final selection of the Jezzero Crater about 250 meters deep.
The scientific community believes that between 3.5 billion and 3.9 billion years ago, Mars’ environment was similar to Earth’s, with warm surface water, a thicker atmosphere and magnetic fields, and that the Jezzello Crater should have been a lake with multiple rivers flowing through it, so it was hoped that ancient organic molecules would be found nearby.
The Mars rover is similar in size to the car and is basically designed to be roughly similar to Curiosity, for example, using a six-wheel drive that can easily cross rocks and is powered by a small nuclear reactor.
After the rover lands on Mars, each Martian day (about 24 hours and 37 minutes) will move about 183 meters on the surface of Mars, and using a drill bit and a robotic arm about 2 meters long to knock on rocks and collect samples, the fuselage will also be equipped with 23 cameras, two used as a sound transmitter to capture the sound of the Martian wind, chemical analysis of the laser device, and a device that can make oxygen in the atmosphere of Mars, which is filled with carbon dioxide.
The report says scientists hope the device will one day help humans on Mars breathe and provide oxygen for their journey back to Earth.
Wallace, deputy director of the Mars 2020 mission, predicts that the rover will be able to collect up to 30 soil samples to help track chemical traces of Mars billions of years ago. He noted that after the rover had collected enough samples, NASA plans to launch another spacecraft in 2026 to send a rocket to Mars and send the samples back to Earth. If successful, it would be the first time humans have recovered Martian soil, a process that is estimated to take “about a decade”.