NASA launches new rover to send to Mars in 2020
NASA announced yesterday that it will launch a new rover that is set to be launched on Mars in 2020.
The upgraded rover will be part of the space agency’s plans for a “robust multi-years Mars programme”, which NASA have confirmed the Obama administration are committed to.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said: “With this next mission, we’re ensuring America remains the world leader in the exploration of the Red Planet, while taking another significant step toward sending humans there in the 2030s.”
The new rover will be modelled on the successful architecture, technology and landing system of its predecessor, NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars’ Gale Crater on the 6th of August this year.
Curiosity’s aim was to identify the role of water and to ascertain whether the environment and conditions could have supported microbial life in the past.
Its most significant finding to date has been evidence of an ancient riverbed from what is thought to be a waist deep, fast running stream.
The new mission will build on these findings, though its new scientific goals, instruments and landing spot have yet to be confirmed.
“The challenge to restructure the Mars Exploration Program has turned from the seven minutes of terror for the Curiosity landing to the start of seven years of innovation,” said John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science and former astronaut.
“This mission concept fits within the current and projected Mars exploration budget, builds on the exciting discoveries of Curiosity, and takes advantage of a favourable launch opportunity.”
The Aerospace Corporation have estimated that the new mission will cost around $1.5 billion, one billion less than Curiosity, as it will use the blueprints and surplus parts of its sister craft.
Lucy Cait Jordan