NASA plans to launch its next rover to the Red Planet in 2020. The new rover, named Mars 2020, will be a bigger and better version of the agency's Curiosity rover that is currently exploring Mars. The robot will search for signs of past or present habitability on the Red Planet.
See images of NASA's Mars 2020 rover mission in this Space.com gallery.
Rovin' on the Red Planet
This artist's concept shows how NASA's Mars 2020 rover will look as it explores the Red Planet.
Mars 2020 Rover Diagram
A sketch of the design for NASA's 2020 Mars rover. Planning for NASA's 2020 Mars rover envisions a basic structure that capitalizes on re-using the design and engineering work done for the NASA rover Curiosity, which landed on Mars in 2012, but with new science instruments selected through competition for accomplishing different science objectives with the 2020 mission.
NASA Mars Rover 2020: Michael Meyer
Michael Meyer, lead scientist, Mars Exploration Program, gives remarks during a press briefing where it was announced what instruments will be carried aboard the agency’s Mars 2020 mission, Thursday, July 31, 2014 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. The new rover will carry more sophisticated, upgraded hardware and new instruments to conduct geological assessments of the rover's landing site, determine the potential habitability of the current environment, and directly search for signs of ancient Martian life — something no previous Mars mission has done. Read the full story here.
An artist concept image of where seven carefully-selected instruments will be located on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. The instruments will conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations on the Red Planet as never before. Read the full story here.
This artist's illustration shows how NASA's Mars 2020 rover will use Supercam, a laser instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. Read the full story here.
Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry
One proposed payload experiment for the Mars 2020 rover is the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. It will contain an imager with high resolution to analyze the fine-scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials.
The Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) will produce views like this on the Mars 2020 rover.
Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration
One proposed payload experiment for the Mars 2020 rover is the Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX). It is a ground-penetrating radar that can provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.
Science Payload Unveiled
NASA unveiled the science instruments for its huge Mars 2020 rover during a press conference at the agency's headquarters in Washington, D.C., on July 31, 2014. Pictured from left are: Dwayne Brown, NASA senior public affairs officer, left, John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the NASA Human Exploration and Operations Directorate, Michael Meyer, lead scientist, Mars Exploration Program, and Ellen Stofan, NASA's former chief scientist. Read the full story here.
Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE)
NASA's Mars 2020 rover mission will carry an innovative instrument called MOXIE aimed at demonstration the potential of resource utilization on the Red Planet. MOXIE (Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment) is designed to create oxygen using Mars' native carbon dioxide. Read the full story here.
This illustration shows the location of Mastcam-Z, a powerful camera to ride on NASA's Mars 2020 rover to observe the Martian surface like never before. Mastcam-Z is an an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with a zoom capability. Read the full story here.
This NASA graphic depicts the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) instrument to ride on the agency's Mars 2020 rover. SHERLOC is a robotic arm-mounted tool to scan the Martian surface for organics and conduct detailed mineralogical studies. Read the full story here.
Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA)
The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) on NASA's Mars 2020 rover is contributed by Spain. It is a set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape. Read the full story here.
This graphic depicts the mission timeline for NASA's 2020 Mars rover, which will seek signs of past life on the Red Planet. Read the full story here.
This graphic shows NASA's progressive strategy of Mars exploration, including the 2020 Mars rover. Read the full story here.
This shows one prototype for hardware to cache samples of cores drilled from Martian rocks for possible future return to Earth. A major objective for NASA's Mars 2020 rover, as described by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, would be to collect and package a carefully selected set of up to 31 samples in a cache that could be returned to Earth by a later mission. For scale, the diameter of the core sample shown in the image is 0.4 inch (1 centimeter). Read the full story here.
Observations at a Microscopic Scale
NASA's Mars 2020 rover, as described by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, would have capabilities for nested-scale observations down to microscopic scale. An example of nested images by NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is seen here. Read the full story here.
Close-Ups of Martian Rocks
NASA's Mars 2020 rover, as described by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, would have capabilities for nested-scale observations and localized composition identification down to microscopic scale. An example here: At left, a mosaic of images from the remote micro-imager of the Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity covers a scene about 3.5 inches (about 9 centimeters) across. Read the full story here.
This NASA artist's sketch for a Mars rover launching in 2020 is loosely based on the agency's Curiosity rover built for the Mars Science Laboratory mission. Read the full story here.
Seeking signs of past life on Mars would be a multi-step process, according to the Science Definition Team for NASA's Mars 2020 mission. The process would begin with using the 2020 rover's instruments to assess whether past conditions were favorable for microbial life and for preserving evidence about Martian life, if it existed. The next step would be searching for possible evidence of any past life, or "potential biosignatures." Read the Full Story here.
Mars 2020 Art
This NASA artist concept for the agency's 2020 Mars rover is loosely based on the Curiosity rover in the Mars Science Laboratory mission.