The Mars 2020 rover will investigate a region of Mars where the ancient environment may have been favorable for microbial life, probing the Martian rocks for evidence of past life. Throughout its investigation, it will collect samples of soil and rock, and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission.
Mars 2020 will carry an entirely new subsystem to collect and prepare Martian rocks and soil samples that includes a coring drill on its arm and a rack of sample tubes. About 30 of these sample tubes will be deposited at select locations for return on a potential future sample-retrieval mission. In laboratories on Earth, specimens from Mars could be analyzed for evidence of past life on Mars and possible health hazards for future human missions.
Two science instruments mounted on the rover's robotic arm will be used to search for signs of past life and determine where to collect samples by analyzing the chemical, mineral, physical and organic characteristics of Martian rocks. On the rover's mast, two science instruments will provide high-resolution imaging and three types of spectroscopy for characterizing rocks and soil from a distance, also helping to determine which rock targets to explore up close.
The Mars 2020 rover will use the same sky crane landing system as Curiosity, but will have the ability to land in more challenging terrain with two enhancements, making more rugged sites eligible as safe landing candidates.
- Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry(PIXL
- Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC)
- Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment(MOXIE)
- Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer(MEDA)
- Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration(RIMFAX)