Illustration of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars.Mission planners would potentially leverage aspects of the Curiosity rover design for a Mars mission designed to launch in 2020. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech Planning for NASA's 2020 Mars rover envisions a basic structure that capitalizes on the design and engineering work done for the NASA rover Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech A close-up view of an engineering model of SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals), one the instruments aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover.An artist's concept of where seven instruments will be located on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. Image Credit: NASA
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Illustration of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars.NASA
Mission planners would potentially leverage aspects of the Curiosity rover design for a Mars mission designed to launch in 2020. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA/JPL-Caltech
Planning for NASA's 2020 Mars rover envisions a basic structure that capitalizes on the design and engineering work done for the NASA rover Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA/JPL-Caltech
A close-up view of an engineering model of SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals), one the instruments aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover. Located on the end of the rover's robotic arm, this instrument features an auto-focusing camera (pictured) that shoots black-and-white images used by SHERLOC's color camera, called WATSON (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering), to zero in on rock textures. SHERLOC also has a laser, which aims for the dead center of rock surfaces depicted in WATSON's images. The laser uses a technique called Raman spectroscopy to detect minerals in microscopic rock features; that data is then superimposed on WATSON's images. These mineral maps help scientists determine which rock samples Perseverance should drill so that they can be sealed in metal tubes and left on the Martian surface for a future mission to return to Earth.NASA/JPL-Caltech
An artist's concept of where seven instruments will be located on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. Image Credit: NASA NASA
As seen in this artist's concept, the SHERLOC instrument is located on the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Perseverance Mars rover.
Mission name: Mars 2020

Mars 2020 Mission

The Mars 2020 mission's Perseverance Rover will provided details about the potential for life on Mars, both past and present.

Mission details
  • Launch DateJuly 31, 2020
  • Arrival DateJanuary 31, 2021
  • Mission TypeLander/Rover
  • TargetMars
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Mission Overview
NASA will launch a new robotic science rover, dubbed Perseverance, in 2020. The mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. The highly capable rover is based on NASA’s successful Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission architecture, including the Curiosity rover and proven landing system. Perseverance is an advancement on Curiosity, and has new capabilities that have been developed through investments by NASA programs (including the Astrobiology Program), and contributions from international partners.

Relevance to Astrobiology
The Mars 2020 mission will address key questions about the potential for life on Mars. The mission will study aspects of the geologic and climatic history of Mars that are relevant to questions surrounding habitability in the planet’s past and present.

Many of the goals for the Mars 2020 mission are directly relevant to Astrobiology. These include:

- Determine whether life ever arose on Mars

- Seeking signs of past life (biosignatures) in the geological record

- Characterize the climate of Mars

- Characterize the geology of Mars

NASA Astrobiology Involvement
Mars 2020 is the next step in NASA’s robotic exploration of Mars, a primary target of astrobiology research in the Solar System, and will build on the accomplishments of MSL. Many researchers supported by elements of the Astrobiology Program are involved in the design and development of the Mars 2020 mission and its scientific goals.

The Astrobiology Program also funded the development of instruments included on the Mars 2020 mission.

The Astrobiologists
From the Virtual Planetary Laboratory Team (NExSS), Pamela Conrad is a co-Investigator for SHERLOC and MEDA instruments, and was a member of the landing site working group, and John Baross contributed to the Mars planetary protection reports.

Rohit Bhartia of the former NAI-USC Team is the Deputy PI for the SHERLOC instrument. William Abbey, Ken Nealson, Greg Wanger, and Bethany Ehlmann are Co-Investigators. Ehlmann is also a Co-Investigator for the MastCam-Z instrument and Abigail Allwood is the PI for the PIXL instrument on Mars 2020.

David Des Marais PI of the form NAI-NASA Ames Team served as part of the science definition team.

Additional Resources



NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover – Countdown to Mars (NASA YouTube)

Mission news and discoveries
Mission Facts
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Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment Instrument for Mars 2020 Rover is MOXIE. Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) is an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. Image Credit: NASA This diagram depicts the sensor head of the Planetary Instrument for X-RAY Lithochemistry, or PIXL, which has been selected as one of seven investigations for the payload of NASA's Mars 2020 rover mission. PIXL is an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that w
Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment Instrument for Mars 2020 Rover is MOXIE. Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) is an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. Image Credit: NASA This diagram depicts the sensor head of the Planetary Instrument for X-RAY Lithochemistry, or PIXL, which has been selected as one of seven investigations for the payload of NASA's Mars 2020 rover mission. PIXL is an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that w
Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment Instrument (MOXIE)MOXIE

Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) is an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. Image Credit: NASA

Planetary Instrument for X-RAY Lithochemistry (PIXL)PIXL

PIXL is an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine-scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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