NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will hunt for signs of alien life, produce oxygen from Mars atmosphere

NASA has announced that the next Mars rover — currently codenamed Mars 2020 — will be outfitted with an array of sophisticated, upgraded scientific instruments that will let it delve deeper and farther than Curiosity, with the hope that it will be able to uncover signs of life on Mars. Perhaps even more excitingly, Mars 2020 will also be equipped with a new instrument that can convert the carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere into oxygen — this is of utmost importance if humanity ever colonizes Mars — and another instrument that will gather and store Martian rock samples for eventual return to Earth.

If you haven’t followed the Mars 2020 story, I suggest you read our original story detailing the scientific scope of the mission. In short, though, the Mars 2020 rover — which is targeting a 2020 launch date — will look almost identical to Curiosity and will land on Mars in the same crazy-sky-crane way. The idea is to reduce R&D costs and capitalize on the massive success of Curiosity by using most of the same framework — but landing in a different spot, and equipping the rover with better/different instrumentation.


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