After the successful completion of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission with the rover Curiosity riding for more than 8 Km in one Martian year, NASA decided to prepare a new surface mission to be launched in 2020. This mission will be designed on the technical heritage of Curiosity but will aim to answer new science and technological questions. The rover will carry seven instruments to conduct geological assessments, determine the potential habitability of the environment, and directly search for signs of ancient Martian life. Scientists will use the instruments to select a collection of rock and soil samples that will be stored for potential return to Earth by a future mission (this function is called “cache” or “caching”). This set includes an instrument to assess the in situ resource utilization, extracting oxygen from carbon dioxide. The set of instruments will also assess possible hazards of the Martian environment for human health.
The mission will be launched in the...