The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, is certainly on of the best space agencies in the world, often at the forefront of innovative missions to explore the realms beyond our planet. The barren, red planet of Mars has perhaps piqued the most curiosity. While sending rovers to explore Mars is nothing new for NASA, or for that matter, to most agencies in the world, including our own ISRO, the 2020 Mars mission is definitely its most ambitious yet and the tech employed seems straight out of science fiction movies.
This rover, which does not have a name as of yet, is to an extent based on its predecessor,
Curiosity. Its mission is to search for any microbial life or even any indication of existence of microbial life in the past by collecting samples to Earth which will be bought by a different mission for further research. The rover is reportedly fitted with 23 cameras to ensure that no stone is left unturned and it could mean just that quite literally in this case. However, what makes this mission different from the others is that it carries a special drone to scour even the atmosphere of the planet.
It has been said that multiple locations were considered before deciding on the final landing location of
Jezero Crater. Jezero crater was once home to a lake and maps and have shown that the area may contain significant amount of mineral deposits, in the form of clay. Areas like these are usually adept at preserving signs of existence of any organic life. Multiple variables like humidity, temperature and windspeed are to be measured by the rover. Further, the rover has a radar that can penetrate through the Martian surface to study the sub-surface.
However, the ultimate aim of Nasa is to send a manned mission to explore the planet. This aim is reflected in the current as well. It not just tries to assess whether the planet ever had the conditions to be able to support life. It also has equipment which could potentially convert the carbon dioxide in the martian atmosphere into oxygen, displaying NASA’s unyielding commitment towards sending humans to our neighbouring red planet.