Frequently Asked Questions

How is this mission an advance beyond what Curiosity is doing?
Last Updated 6 years ago

Like other missions in NASA's Mars Exploration Program, the 2020 mission would take the next logical step in pursuit of the science strategy for "Seeking the Signs of Life". This mission would build upon what Curiosity and earlier missions have accomplished, while taking the science and technology to the next levels.

NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers were sent a decade ago to seek evidence about past watery environments on Mars, and they succeeded. Curiosity landed last year to seek evidence about past conditions that were favorable for life, and it has already succeeded. The next logical step in investigating whether Mars has ever supported life is to go to a promising landing site, study the rocks there, and seek possible signs of past life.

To do this, the 2020 rover as proposed by the Science Definition Team would carry a different and more advanced set of science instruments than Curiosity carries, its drill would extract cores rather than blended powder from rocks, and it would collect and package samples for possible future return to Earth.

The instrument payload will be selected through a competitive process, ensuring the best possible measurements to meet the mission objectives. In addition, many sites of particularly high scientific interest could become accessible for the first time because of advances in landing technology.

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