NASA has announced its Mars 2020 Rover mission is entering key assembly, test and launch operations (ATLO) phase.
The NASA Mars 2020 mission is scheduled for launch in July 2020 aboard an Atlas V54 rocket if there are no delays. The Atlas V 541 rocket will be launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
The Mars 2020 rover will have a rectangular body, a mechanical arm, six-tracked aluminum wheels, cameras and instruments, and a drill for taking samples. The final assembly of the Mars 2020 rover will be done at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility High Bay 1 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
“No better place in the world to assemble NASA’s next Mars rover than JPL’s High Bay 1,” said John McNamee of JPL.
The main mission of the Mars rover is to conduct geological studies of the Red planet, explore the potential habitability of the environment, search for past signs of life on the surface of Mars, and to discover possible landing sites for future crewed space missions. The rover will evaluate the resources and dangers of landing in specific areas of the planet.
It will also collect samples of rock and soil from the Martian surface that will be placed in a tube. The samples will be brought back to Earth in a future mission for further analysis by scientists. Some reports even claim that the rover will be equipped with a high-developed communication system which will enable to beam live and high definition video to Earth from Mars.
“Our next instruments will build on the success of MSL (Curiosity rover), which was a proving ground for new technology,” said George Tahu, NASA’s Mars 2020 program executive.
“These will gather scientific data in ways that weren’t possible before,” Tahu added.