NASA has announced that it is building a successor to the Curiosity rover currently roaming Mars. Building on the success of the ongoing exploratory mission on the red planet, the space agency will essentially replicate the existing rover’s design in order to drive down costs and risk. The new rover is expected to launch in 2020 and Curiosity may well be there to welcome it.
“The future rover development and design will be based on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that successfully carried the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer,” NASA announced in a recent press release. In addition to driving down costs, the new rover will feature the proven entry, descent, landing system (EDL) and progresses the American government’s plan to put humans on Mars by 2030.
Whilst the basic structure will remain the same, NASA is calling on scientists who want to contribute new instruments to develop their ideas now so that they will be ready for the 2020 launch, the BBC reports. A nuclear battery leftover from the original Curiosity will also be incorporated. And given the nuclear batteries’ longevity, which could extend Curiosity’s lifespan to 2021, its successor might have a welcoming committee. This latest project brings the number of NASA missions on Mars to seven.
Via BBC News
images via NASA