Fig. 1 via Wikimedia This mission is being designed to launch in 2020 and to enable surface operations lasting one Martian year (about 687 Earth days). Source URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mars2020MissionTimeline-20130710.jpg Accessed July 30, 2013
The Mars 2020 mission promises to further humanity’s efforts to understand Mars’ history and pave the way for eventual human exploration. The report that outlines the mission was released early July of this year. (In some senses it reminds me of the way in which the moon-shot was planned.) The prior missions to the eventual 2020 landing painstakingly laid down a foundation of what will be the important areas for investigation. (see Fig. 2)
In a nutshell, the mission priorities were summarized in the SDT 2020 Mars here: (Available at the following website: http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/m2020/ )
- Explore an astrobiologically relevant ancient environment on Mars to decipher its geological processes and history, including the assessment of past habitability.
- Assess biosignature preservation potential within the selected geological environment and search for potential biosignatures.
- Demonstrate significant technical progress towards the future return of scientifically selected, well-documented samples to Earth.
- Provide an opportunity for contributed Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate or Space Technology Participation, compatible with the science payload and within the mission’s payload capacity.
Fig. 2 From Mars 2020 Report (Prior missions paved the way for the upcoming 2020 exploration.)
Original illustration to appear in the following :
Fraeman et al (2013) “Detection and Mapping of Hematite Capping Ridge in Gayle Crater, Mars and Implications for Past Aqueous Conditions.” Geology (submitted by report authors)