July 11, 2016

Rover

The Mars 2020 rover for this mission would be based on the Mars Science Laboratory's Curiosity rover configuration. It would be car-sized, about 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall (about 3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall).

In some sense, the rover parts for this Mars mission will be similar to what any living creature would need to keep it "alive" and able to explore.

The Mars 2020 rover would have a:

  • body: a structure that protects the rovers' "vital organs"
  • brains: computers to process information
  • temperature controls: internal heaters, a layer of insulation, and more
  • "neck and head": a mast for the cameras to give the rover a human-scale view
  • eyes and other "senses": cameras and instruments that give the rover information about its environment
  • arm and "hand": a way to extend its reach and collect rock samples for study
  • wheels and "legs": parts for mobility
  • energy: batteries and power
  • communications: antennas for "speaking" and "listening"

The Instruments

bpc_supercam-rover-instruments.jpg

Science Instruments location on the rover - Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

  • Mastcam-Z: An advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom. The instrument also will determine mineralogy of the Martian surface and assist with rover operations. The principal investigator is James Bell, Arizona State University in Phoenix.

  • SuperCam: An instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance. The principal investigator is Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico. This instrument also has a significant contribution from the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planetologie (CNES/IRAP) France with a French deputy Principal investigator : Sylvestre Maurice.

  • PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry): An X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. PIXL will provide capabilities that permit more detailed detection and analysis of chemical elements than ever before. The principal investigator is Abigail Allwood, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

  • SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals): A spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic compounds. SHERLOC will be the first UV Raman spectrometer to fly to the surface of Mars and will provide complementary measurements with other instruments in the payload. The principal investigator is Luther Beegle, JPL.

  • MOXIE (Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment): An exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. The principal investigator is Michael Hecht, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer): A set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape. The principal investigator is Jose Rodriguez-Manfredi, Centro de Astrobiologia, Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, Spain.

  • RIMFAX (Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration): A ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface. The principal investigator is Svein-Erik Hamran, Forsvarets Forskningsinstitutt, Norway.