NASA’s Mars Rover 2020 may bring Martian soil back to Earth


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Curiosity hasn’t even started its second year of exploring Mars, but NASA is already proposing plans for its next rover, which should arrive on the Red Planet in 2020. On Tuesday, NASA released a 154-page document that details the agency’s plans to double down on the search for signs of past life on Mars in its next mission.

According to the JPL release, the next rover will have an instrument that will be able to analyze rock samples using a “visual, mineralogical and chemical analysis down to microscopic scale to understand the environment,” potentially revealing “biosignatures, or features in the rocks and soil that could have been formed biologically.”

Among the lofty mission goals outline in the report, NASA says it wants to bring back as many as 31 rock core as well as soil samples to Earth. This will be a big step considering that almost everything we send to Mars doesn’t come back—the Opportunity rover has been on Mars since 2004.

For now, the mission plan is just a very thick mission proposal. The next step will be for the officials at NASA to turn this thick pad of dreams into a feasible mission.

[NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory]

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