Through the rover’s eyes, we’ll get a new view of Mars.
The latest NASA mission to Mars will be another rover, sent as early as July 2020 to uncover more secrets about the intriguing Red Planet. NASA had announced testing to be conducted on a new Rover a few months ago, subjecting a test rover to some of the extreme conditions and harsh weather the robot will face when it reaches Mars. They recently revealed some of the features that will be added, as well as what they hope to investigate.
One major advancement will be advanced optical lenses attached to a robotic arm, which will serve as an HD camera in addition to its spectrometer and other analytical features. NASA has dubbed the attachment Mast Cam Z Shooters, a pair of lenses that will not only take pictures but also analyze the physical make up of the planet’s surface features. If all goes well, this camera will be able to transmit higher resolution images of the Martian surface than we’ve ever seen before. The attachment will also be able to survey the planet from more than one vantage point, allowing the images to be close up shots, and long distance landscapes. Overall, the cameras will be able to give scientist more information on the planet’s geological history, which will not only give more information about possible extraterrestrial microbial life of the solar system, but help understand life on our own planet as well.
The rover will be sent to a region known as the Jezero Crater, where scientists hope to find signs of water and possibly living organisms or the remnants of life. NASA’s Curiosity was the last rover to explore the planet, landing successfully in 2012. Curiosity sent back several interesting discoveries, including evidence of a liquid stream bed and samples of elements essential to life on Earth such as Boron. The Curiosity Rover design will serve as the template for the new rover, which has yet to be named. NASA created a naming contest to drum up public awareness of the mission, because public engagement has always been an essential part of all NASA projects and research. This latest mission will mark the 5th NASA Rover to land on the planet successfully, going back to the 1990s.