Amateur astronomers, get ready. NASA has officially unveiled plans for the 2020 Mars rover. While it looks similar to its compatriots already on Mars, this one is getting the luxury upgrade package.
The framework for the 2020 rover is based off Curiosity, the rover that landed on Mars two years ago that is still driving around drilling into rocks, and picking up dirt samples. What makes this rover different from Curiosity is that it will have onboard storage space.
Why the space to store samples? For any future manned missions to the red planet. I think the Chappelle show said it best – Red Rocks! Yay, Yay.
Right now, the Curiosity rover can store samples, but it has to routinely dump them. Having too much stored impedes the movement of the rover’s arm. NASA didn’t envision this problem when developing the rover.
They just assumed Curiosity would pick up samples, analyze and then dump them. No one was thinking future missions to Mars to grab the samples. See, that’s why they need a team of people just thinking stuff up. And, another team backing them up.
As for the mission of the 2020 rover? It is similar to Curiosity’s mission. NASA wants to determine any potential habitability of Mars, and continue the search for previous life on the planet. Having the storage space will allow for impact studies on how humans could possibly use Martian natural resources on future missions.
Keeping the design the same helps keep costs down for NASA. We freely spend hundreds of billions on defense, but NASA gets short-changed in a big way. Even with budget constraints, NASA has already made significant discoveries. Curiosity found that humans could survive radiation levels on the surface of Mars. Also, an ancient streambed was found.
Mars used to have water flowing on the surface, and humans can survive the radiation. Sign me up for the trip.
Below is an image of some of the features on the Mars 2020 rover and concept art released by NASA/JPL.
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