Mars 2020 Missions

planetary exploration

2020 is going to be a big year for Mars Missions as Earth and Mars are in good positions relative to each other for landing on Mars.

As a result, there are 4 Mars planned missions–3 rovers, 2 orbiters, and 1 lander to launch in 2020!

  • NASA plans to launch the Mars 2020 rover, which will include the Mars Helicopter Scout and cache samples for eventual return to Earth
  • The European Space Agency has partnered with Roscosmos to launch the Rosalind Franklin rover using the Kazachok lander
  • The China National Space Administration will launch its HX-1 mission, which includes an orbiter and small rover; it would be China’s first mission to another planet using its own delivery vehicle
  • The United Arab Emirates will launch the Hope Mars Mission orbiter on a Japanese rocket

Rosalind Franklin Rover

Mars 2020

A robotic lander that is part of the ExoMars program led by the European Space Agency and the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation, the Rosalind Franklin Rover is schedule to launch on July 25th, 2020. This rover will have a 7 month lifespan that will look for life on Mars. To do this, the rover will have to drive across the Martian terrain at 70 m, 230 ft, per sol to enable it to meet its science objectives. The rover is designed to operate for at least seven months and drive 4 km (2.5 mi) int total. Oxia Planum is the preferred landing site for the rover, with Aram Dorsum and Mawrth Vallis available as backup options.

The rover will search for two types of subsurface life signatures, morphological and chemical, as it will not analyze atmospheric samples, and it has no dedicated meteorological station. To accomplish this the rover will be examining for neutrons, ice, infrared light associated with water related materials, and cameras.

Update: This has been postponed until 2022.

Hope Mars Mission Orbiter

Mars 2020
Artist Rendition of Hope Mars Orbiter

Funded by the United Arab Emirates, the Hope Mars Orbiter aims to become the first mission to Mars by any West Asian, Arab or Muslim majority country. The probe will study the climate daily and through seasonal cycles, the weather events in the lower atmosphere such as dust storms, as well as the weather on Mars different geographic areas. The probe will attempt to answer the scientific community questions of why Mars atmosphere is losing hydrogen and oxygen into space and the reason behind Mars drastic climate changes.

The probe will take 200 days to get to Mars, with a speed of 40,000 kilometers per hour and is expected to remain in the martian atmosphere for 2 years. In this time, enough data will be captures to build “holistic models” of the atmosphere. To do this, the scientific instruments carried onboard will include a digital camera for high resolution colored images, an infrared spectrometer that will examine the temperature profile, ice, water vapors in the atmosphere, and an ultraviolet spectrometer that will study the upper atmosphere and traces of oxygen and hydrogen further out into space. All data gained from the mission will be made available to 200 universities and research institutes across the globe for the purpose of knowledge sharing.

HX-1 Mission

Mockup of the HX-1 Rover at the 69th International Astronautical Congress

Launching somewhere between July 23 to August 5, 2020 on a Long March 5 rocket, this Chinese program is planned to deploy an orbiter and rover on Mars with the goal of finding signs of previous or current life, plus evaluate the planet surface environment. Launching in Powered by solar panels, the rover is planned to probe the ground with radar, perform chemical analyses on the soil, and look for biomolecules and biosignatures. 

The technology that will be onboard the rover and orbiter will include numerous cameras, radar detectors, and mineral composition tools.

This mission is important because it is the first mission to Mars that has China independently funding, developing, and operating. If successful, this mission will open the door to future missions such as a sample return mission and future scientific study.

Mars 2020 Rover — Perseverance

Mars 2020

With a planned launch date of July 30th, 2020 and a touch down date of February 18th, 2021 in the Jezero Crater, the Mars 2020 rover will investigate an astrobiologically relevant ancient environment on Mars and investigate its surface geological processes and history. Derived from the Curiosity rover, and will use many components already fabricated and tested, new scientific instruments and a core drill. We should be seeing a name for this rover come soon as the naming contest ends soon.
The mission will look for prior microbial signs of life and provide rock samples for future analysis and return to Earth.

Tools include an X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer, radar imaging tool, oxygen experiment, chemical composition analysis, detect organic compounds using UV lasers, and a helicopter scout to help plot the best path forward. The naming contest for this rover completed voting on January 27th, 2020, which will choose 1 of 9 selected K-12 submitted and proposed names. To get involved in the Mars 2020 Mission during the NASA launch, check out how.

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