It's expected to give us a whole new look at the Red Planet

NASA plans to pull out the big guns for its next Mars rover, reportedly equipping it with seven proposed tools that will allow it to explore the surface in different ways than ever before. 

According to NASA, the next Mars rover -- set to launch in 2020 -- will have seven proposed instruments, including Mastcam-Z, SuperCam, Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) and the Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX).

"Today we take another important step on our journey to Mars," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

"While getting to and landing on Mars is hard, Curiosity was an iconic example of how our robotic scientific explorers are paving the way for humans to pioneer Mars and beyond. Mars exploration will be this generation’s legacy, and the Mars 2020 rover will be another critical step on humans' journey to the Red Planet."

The Mastcam-Z is an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability as well as zoom, and it will determine mineralogy of the Martian surface and assist with rover operations.

The SuperCam is an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks from a distance. 

The Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) is an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials.

The Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) is a spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic compounds.

The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) is an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) is a set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape.

Finally, the Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX) is a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.

The Mars 2020 rover is part the agency's Mars Exploration Program, which includes the Opportunity and Curiosity rovers, the Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft (currently orbiting the planet) and the MAVEN orbiter.

Source: NASA

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