With its next Martian mission coming up (relatively) soon, NASA has dropped some incredible new images — and video — of its 2020 rover.
On Tuesday, the space agency released some detailed new artist’s concepts of the rover, which it describes as a “souped-up science machine.”
“It has seven new instruments, redesigned wheels and more autonomy,” NASA wrote in a press release. “A drill will capture rock cores, while a caching system with a miniature robotic arm will seal up these samples. Then, they’ll be deposited on the Martian surface for possible pickup by a future mission.”
Engineers have finished up Mars 2020’s cruise stage, which will “fly the rover through space,” according to NASA. They’ve also wrapped up the descent stage, which will help land the rover. It’s complicated business getting this thing on another planet!
Once it lands, Mars 2020 will be hard at work searching the Red Planet for traces of past microbial life. It’ll do this by scoping the ground with an X-ray spectrometer and ultraviolet laser among other handy tools.
NASA’s latest rover is clearly very much inspired by the space agency’s Curiosity rover, which landed in 2012. In fact, the rover is mostly composed of spare pieces of hardware that were produced for Curiosity — so the old rover will always be a part of the new one. Awww.
Actually, it was just cost-effective.
Obviously, NASA’s a bit of a ways away from sending this rover on its way. It’s expected to launch in July or August 2020, and will take off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Check out this video of a hole on Mars that could be the perfect breeding ground for microbial life.