The ultimate all-terrain vehicle is out of this world.
Curiosity Mk II to be even better
THE ultimate offroad vehicle is out of this world — literally.
It is a Mars rover called Curiosity — Nasa’s car-sized, sixwheeled, one-ton radioisotopepowered exploratory vehicle that has been analysing the red planet since August 2012.
Nasa said it is now building a face-lift model to join the ageing Mars Rover in February 2021.
The Mars 2020 rover will investigate a region of Mars where the ancient environment may have been favorable for microbial life, probing the Martian rocks for evidence of past life.
Throughout its investigation, it will collect samples of soil and rock and cache them on the surface for potential return to Earth by a future mission.
“The Mars 2020 rover is the first step in a potential multimission campaign to return carefully selected and sealed samples of Martian rocks and soil to Earth,” said Geoffrey Yoder, acting associate administrator of Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
“This mission marks a significant milestone in Nasa’s Journey to Mars — to determine whether life has ever existed on Mars, and to advance our goal of sending humans to the Red Planet,” he said.
To reduce risk and provide cost savings, the 2020 rover will look much like its predecessor, Curiosity, but with an array of new science instruments and enhancements to explore Mars as never before.
The Mars 2020 rover will use the same sky crane landing system as Curiosity, but will have the ability to land in more challenging terrain with two enhancements, making more rugged sites eligible as safe landing candidates.
Terrain-relative navigation on the new rover will use onboard analysis of downward-looking images taken during descent, matching them to a map that indicates zones designated unsafe for landing.
Erisa Hines, a driver for the Mars Curiosity rover (shown), talks about the new Rover being built to explore new parts of Mars.