NASA engineers started to build a Mars Rover «Mars-2020»

© NASA / JPL-CaltechКомпьютерная model of the Rover Mars-2020NASA engineers started to build a Mars Rover «Mars-2020»© NASA / JPL-Caltech

. The participants of the project «Mars-2020» officially started construction of the fifth NASA, whose main task will be to collect potential traces of life on the red planet, reports the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA.

«The problem is, or whether there was ever life beyond Earth is one of the main mysteries for science and humanity as a whole. Those samples that we collect during this mission will help us to get closer to the answer to this fundamental question – are we alone in the Universe?», said Ken Farley (Ken Farley), scientific head of the mission «Mars-2020» from the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA.

In December 2012, after the successful landing of the Curiosity Rover in Gale crater on the equator of Mars and began studying the secrets of this dry lake, NASA announced plans to build another Rover that should go to the red planet in 2020.

As initially emphasized in NASA this Rover in its innards will be a full heir Curiosity — it will be based on the same platform as the fourth Rover NASA, but will be equipped with a different set of tools. Their main purpose is not the search for traces of water, and to test the capability of Mars in the past and today to maintain life.

Because foreign policy issues this Rover, unlike the two other Mars missions, NASA’s Curiosity Rover and probe Mars Odyssey will not be equipped with Russian water detector NORD, which was developed for this Rover in the group IKI Igor Mitrofanov. On the other hand, on Board the «Mars-2020», has not yet received an official name, will set the microphone, which will allow us for the first time to «hear» the sounds of Mars.

Using the same technological platform, as stated by NASA, was to reduce the cost of the Rover. Curiosity has cost the US taxpayers more than $ 2.5 billion, which has prompted some congressmen to try to «close» an expensive project, whose initial cost was not to exceed $ 800 million and whose launch was to take place in 2009.

NASA engineers, according to Farley, has already started construction of the Rover, approximately 85% of the components which will be inherited from the Curiosity, and build seven new scientific instruments, including a miniature drill and a special «Cabinet», which will collect rock samples with potential traces of life found «Mars-2020» during his wanderings on the planet.

For these traces, as noted by scholars, for «Mars-2020» will be installed x-ray spectrometers and UV lasers that can find traces of aromatic hydrocarbons and other potential «building blocks of life» in the soil of the red planet, as well as a new set of cameras and radar capable of search for deposits of ice and water at great depths.

When assembling the «Mars-2020», as noted in NASA, engineers will take into account all the problems that have arisen in the work of his predecessor and set a new wheel, not collapsing when driving on sharp pebbles, as well as a new drill and soil sampling.

While NASA has not selected a place to land their fifth Rover – this role is now claimed by the crater, Jezero plateau Big Syrt and Gusev crater. Each of these regions could contain traces of ancient Martian life, and while Farley and his colleagues are not prepared to say which of them attracts more of them.