Category : Technology
NASA is finishing preparations for the next huge event, which will take place next year. Then, the Mars 2020 mission will start, sending a rover and exploratory drone to the surface of Mars.
The construction of the rover and drone takes place at the famous Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. The agency has made available a live broadcast from laboratories in which the elements of the new rover and the first space drone are assembled and tested (see here). They will appear on the surface of the Red Planet in 2021. There, they will be greeted by extremely inhospitable atmospheric conditions.
Dust and low temperatures will be the biggest threat. Engineers must design and build devices in such a way that they survive there for several years. This is not a simple task, because rovers are more and more packed with electronics, and as we know, delicate and sensitive measuring instruments can fail in such conditions.
The landing will take place in the delta region of the Jezero crater, which is located on the edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant basin located north of the equator of the planet. Scientists chose this area because of the oldest and most interesting geological form of the Red Planet occurring there.
Then a new era of research on this fascinating planet will begin, and traces of the once developing life there will start to appear on it. The new device looks like its predecessor, the current rover exploring Mars called Curiosity. But this is just an illusion, because although in as much as 85 percent will be based on it, Mars Rover 2020 will be much more technologically advanced than it. It will have as many as seven new instruments, redesigned wheels and more autonomy.
The most important improvement will be a drill with the help of which you can drill holes in the ground and take rock samples. Then they will be sealed and can be picked up by future missions and delivered to Earth for more thorough research.
The objective of the Mars 2020 mission will be to explore the areas through which rivers once sailed, lakes were formed and life could exist. For this purpose, the rover was equipped with the most modern scientific instruments.
They will search for biomarkers on the scale of microbes: an X-ray spectrometer will analyze grain size of table salt, and the UV laser will try to detect "glow" from the excited rings of carbon atoms. The radar penetrating the surface will be the first instrument to study material beneath the surface of Mars by mapping rock, water and ice layers up to 10 meters deep (depending on the composition).
On its board there will also be newer versions of cameras recording color and magnification images, and lasers to study the chemical composition of rocks and soil. In addition to the Mars 2020 rover, the mission will also be the first time in the history of space exploration experimental drone, with which astronomers will be able to better look at the surface of the planet from a bird's eye view. Scientists plan to download from 20 to 40 cores of rocks and then explore them in search of important information about the turbulent past of this planet.