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NASA's Mars 2020 rover to explore ancient life

IANS  |  Washington 

NASA's 2020 rover, its latest robotic mission to the Red Planet, will include technology to explore ancient life on Mars, according to the space agency's

The goal of the 2020 is to look for signs of ancient life. It will be the first spacecraft to collect samples of the Martian surface, them in tubes that could be returned to Earth on a future mission, reported on Thursday.

The atmosphere on is mostly carbon dioxide and extremely thin, about 100 times less dense than the Earth's, with no breathable oxygen. There's no water on the surface and the landscape is freezing, with no protection from the Sun's or from passing dust storms.

The key to survival will be technology, research and testing, said JPL, adding Mars 2020 will help on all those fronts.

When it is launched in July 2020, the spacecraft will carry the latest scientific and engineering tools.

Before touchdown on Mars, sensors in the spacecraft's aeroshell, the capsule that encloses the rover, will study how it heats up and performs during atmospheric entry.

The has a guidance system that will take a step toward safer landings. Called Terrain Relative Navigation, this new system figures out where the spacecraft is headed by taking camera images during descent and matching landmarks in them to a pre-loaded map.

If the spacecraft drifts toward dangerous terrain, it will divert to a safer landing target.

Living on Mars will require a steady supply of oxygen. A cube-shaped device, called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, is exploring a space-saving alternative that converts carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Mars 2020 will carry a ground-penetrating radar to Mars, which will be the first operated at the Martian surface. Scientists will use its high-resolution images to look at buried geology, like ancient lake beds.

The will also collect science that may help engineers design better shelters for future astronauts, said JPL.

--IANS

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(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, June 14 2019. 09:02 IST
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