Washington: The NASA rover to be sent to Mars in 2020 will look for signs of past life, collect samples for possible future return to Earth, and demonstrate technology for future human exploration of the Red Planet, it has been revealed.
A 154-page document was prepared by the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team, which NASA appointed in January to outline scientific objectives for the mission.
The team, composed of 19 scientists and engineers from universities and research organizations, proposed a mission concept that could accomplish several high-priority planetary science goals and be a major step in meeting President Obama`s challenge to send humans to Mars in the 2030s.
"Crafting the science and exploration goals is a crucial milestone in preparing for our next major Mars mission," John Grunsfeld, NASA`s associate administrator for science in Washington, said.
"The objectives determined by NASA with the input from this team will become the basis later this year for soliciting proposals to provide instruments to be part of the science payload on this exciting step in Mars exploration," he said.
NASA will conduct an open competition for the payload and science instruments.
They will be placed on a rover similar to Curiosity, which landed on Mars almost a year ago.
Using Curiosity`s design will help minimize mission costs and risks and deliver a rover that can accomplish the mission objectives.
The 2020 mission proposed by the Science Definition Team would build upon the accomplishments of Curiosity and other Mars missions.
The team`s report details how the rover would use its instruments for visual, mineralogical and chemical analysis down to microscopic scale to understand the environment around its landing site and identify biosignatures, or features in the rocks and soil that could have been formed biologically.