Unnamed 2020 Mars rover mission
|Major contractors||Jet Propulsion Laboratory|
|Launch date||Proposed for 2020|
|Mission highlight||Assess planetary habitability|
|Power||Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG)|
|To be determined|
An as-yet unnamed planetary rover mission by NASA is under study with a possible launch in 2020. It is intended to investigate an astrobiologically relevant ancient environment on Mars, investigate its surface geological processes and history, including the assessment of its past habitability and potential for preservation of biosignatures within accessible geological materials.
The rover's design will be derived from Curiosity rover, and would carry a different scientific payload. It was announced by NASA on 4 December 2012 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
As proposed, the rover would be based on the design of the Curiosity rover. While there will be differences in scientific instruments and the engineering required to support them, the entire landing system (including the sky crane and heat shield) and rover chassis can essentially be recreated without any additional engineering or research. This reduces overall technical risk for the mission, while saving funds and time on development.
Among the leftover Curiosity equipment, a radioisotope thermoelectric generator—originally intended as a backup for Curiosity—will be used on the rover. NASA associate administrator of science John Grunsfeld said it was the availability of spare parts that would make the 2020 rover possible on NASA's lean budget. Curiosity's engineering team will also be involved in the new rover's design.
The new rover mission and launch is estimated to cost roughly US$1.5 billion, plus or minus $200 million, according to The Aerospace Corporation. The mission's prequel, the Mars Science Laboratory, cost US$2.5 billion in total. NASA was working toward coming up with its own estimate as of the day of the announcement.
|2018||Apr 2018 – May 2018||7.7–11.1 km2/sec2|
|2020||Jul 2020 – Sep 2020||13.2–18.4 km2/sec2|
The rover is planned to be launched in 2020. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory will manage the mission. The specific payload and science instruments for the mission will be debated and selected by summer 2013 through an open competition after the scientific objectives for the mission have been formulated. The mission will also be contingent on receiving adequate funding. Precise mission details will be determined by the mission's science definition team.
NASA's Mars Program Planning Group (MPPG), as well as the associate administrator of science John Grunsfeld, endorse a sample retrieval and return mission to Earth for scientific analysis. Regardless, a mission requirement is that it must help prepare NASA for its long-term sample return or manned mission efforts.
On the day of the announcement, California Congressman Adam Schiff praised the new rover mission plan, saying that "an upgraded rover with additional instrumentation and capabilities is a logical next step that builds upon now proven landing and surface operations systems." Schiff also said he favors an expedited launch in 2018 which would enable an even greater payload to be launched to Mars. Schiff said he would be working with NASA, White House administration and Congress to explore the possibility of advancing the launch date.
NASA's science chief John Grunsfeld said that while it could be possible to launch in 2018, "it would be a push." Grunsfeld said that given the development time constraints, a 2018 launch would require certain science investigations be excluded from the rover.
- "Science Definition Team for the 2020 Mars Rover". NASA. Science Ref. 21 December 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-21.
- Amos, Jonathan (4 December 2012). "Nasa to send new rover to Mars in 2020". BBC News. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- Harwood, William (4 December 2012). "NASA announces plans for new $1.5 billion Mars rover". CNET. Retrieved 5 December 2012. "Using spare parts and mission plans developed for NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, the space agency says it can build and launch a new rover in 2020 and stay within current budget guidelines."
- "New Details on the 2020 Mars Rover". The Planetary Society. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-15.
- Boyle, Alan (4 December 2012). "NASA plans 2020 Mars rover remake". Cosmic Log. NBC News. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- Wall, Mike (4 December 2012). "NASA to Launch New Mars Rover in 2020". Space.com. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- "Mars redux: NASA to launch Curiosity-like rover". Idaho State Journal. Associated Press. 4 December 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- D. McCleese, et al. - Robotic Mars Exploration Strategy
- "NASA Aiming for Mars Again With New Science Rover in 2020". eWeek. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2012.
- Mann, Adam (4 December 2012). "NASA Announces New Twin Rover for Curiosity Launching to Mars in 2020". Wired. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- "Mars Planning Group Endorses Sample Return". SpaceNews. Oct. 3, 2012. (subscription required)
- Summary of the MPPG Final Report
- "Scientists Offer Wary Support for NASA's New Mars Rover". Space.com. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-05.