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NASA Touts 2020 Mars Rover’s Scientific Gear

Image: The proposed Mars 2020 Rover
The proposed Mars 2020 Rover. NASA

NASA has announced the 2020 Mars rover's loadout of scientific instruments, and it's clear that the focus is on both detecting life and evaluating the possibility of future colonization. The 2020 rover, which is yet to be officially named, will carry seven major devices or clusters of sensors, several of which have catchy acronyms or abbreviations: SHERLOC, MOXIE, PIXL. The focus of these various cameras and sensors is to get readings of unprecedented accuracy on the composition, structure and origin of the Martian surface.

X-Ray spectroscopy will determine elemental composition of nearby rocks and dust, while a UV laser and other sensors will watch for organic compounds. Meanwhile, a ground-penetrating radar will give an idea of subterranean structures — in case of underground waterways (or tunnels dug by Red Planet residents). And an experimental technology will demonstrate the ability to turn Martian carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen — useful for both propulsion and breathing. NASA's Mars Mission website has more information on the new instruments, from their capabilities to their origins and operators. In addition, more landers and orbiters are planned for the meantime.

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— Devin Coldewey, NBC News