NASA reveals instrumentation for Mars 2020 rover

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  • Published: Aug 1, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Raman / Base Peak / Chemometrics & Informatics / Infrared Spectroscopy / Proteomics / NMR Knowledge Base / Atomic / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / X-ray Spectrometry / MRI Spectroscopy
thumbnail image: NASA reveals instrumentation for Mars 2020 rover

NASA has announced the instrument payload that will be aboard its 2020 Martian rover. It has selected seven systems from a total of 56 that were proposed by interested collaborators, with the aims of providing further insight into the planet’s geology as well as investigating how human visitors could use the natural resources present.

"Today we take another important step on our journey to Mars," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "While getting to and landing on Mars is hard, Curiosity was an iconic example of how our robotic scientific explorers are paving the way for humans to pioneer Mars and beyond. Mars exploration will be this generation's legacy, and the Mars 2020 rover will be another critical step on humans' journey to the Red Planet."

The payloads will be fitted to a rover that is similar to the Curiosity rover that is currently traversing the Martian surface, thereby minimising the risks of damage by adopting a proven design. As usual, the instruments have been given some memorable acronyms:

  • Mastcam-Z is an advanced camera system which will also determine mineralogy of the Martian surface
  • SuperCam will provide imaging, chemical composition analysis and mineralogy and will search for organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance
  • Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) is an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
  • Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic compounds
  • The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) will attempt to produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide
  • Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) contains sensors that will measure temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape
  • The Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX) will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface 

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