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NASA has unveiled the new design of curiosity rover that will journey to Mars in 2020 featuring seven powerful instruments under the hood. The main framework of the new rover follows the design of the Curiosity that landed on Mars two years ago. Curiosity collects samples, analyze and then dump the samples since it does not have enough storage area.
The new curiosity rover will overcome the short comings of the previous design. It is surprising that hundreds of brilliant minds on the project were unable to consider the possibility of bringing the samples from Mars back to Earth for further testing; had they designed the curiosity rover in a better way.
The new design will have the capability to bring intact samples back to earth without crushing them. The history of Mars is written on the planet’s rocks and minerals which will provide a better study of how humans can use natural resources on Mars in future missions. The samples will be stored in the rover’s 45 kg payload.
It will also employ MastCam to take incredibly detailed images which will provide an experience similar to a human looking at mars. The camera will have an augmented 3.6:1 zoom feature which can resolve images to about one millimeter in near field while 3-4 cm at 100 m distance. Also, SuperCam will provide advance imaging along with chemical composition analysis and mineralogy.
The most exciting instrument will be Moxie – a machine that will make Mars habitable for humans. It will suck out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and pump out pure oxygen. This oxygen can also be used for conversion to rocket fuel.
NASA Rover instruments will also include Meda- a collection of sensors to provide measurements for temperature, wind speed, direction, pressure, relative humidity, dust size and shape.
Other instruments include Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC) and The Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Exploration (RIMFAX). All these instruments are used for detailed chemical analysis of Martian surface.
The seven instruments will be part of a ‘roving laboratory’ powered by radioisotrope generator with a life span of one Martian year – equal to 687 earth days.
The technology will help devise more affordable missions to Mars where oxygen is essential for human survival and rocket fuel.