Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

NASA Touts 2020 Mars Rover's Scientific Gear

 / Updated 

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

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.

IN-DEPTH

Explorers Wrap Up Four-Month Mock Mars Mission in Hawaii

Elon Musk Promises SpaceX Will Stay the Course for Mars

Eyes on Mars on Apollo 11's Moon Landing Anniversary

SOCIAL

— Devin Coldewey, NBC News

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news