NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is set to leave for the Red Planet in July 2020. The rover will drill into the surface of the planet in order to collect core samples of soil and rock. NASA’s goal is to study the ancient and present ability of Mars to host life.
Ideally, the rover from NASA can collect samples while looking for microbial organisms. But, unlike all the other missions from NASA to Mars, this rover will get samples and return them to Earth.
Mars 2020 is set to leave between the 17th of July and the 5th of August, 2020. It is expected to land on Mars in February 2021.
How will the rover return the samples to Earth?
This rover is set to stay there one Mars year – that means about 687 Earth days. During this period, the robot will get samples of rocks from the crater of the planet Jezero. After the robot drills the sample cores, it will put them into sealed tubes. NASA has called the entire process, “sample caching.”
NASA stated that the team would choose a time and place when the samples would be deposited on the surface of Mars, called a ‘sample cache depot.’ The location should be known by local landmarks and should be precisely coordinated with orbital measurements.
The difficult part is the road home
The samples from Mars will remain at the depot and will be available for pickup and a potential return to Earth. NASA is still working on how to get the samples back on Earth. This problem was discussed at the 70th International Astronautical Congress.