New twin Curiosity rover to close out decade of new missions.
Washington, DC — Building on the success of Curiosity’s Mars landing, NASA has announced plans for a multi-year Mars program, including a new robotic science rover set to launch in 2020. Planned missions in the program include the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers; two NASA spacecraft and contributions to one European spacecraft currently orbiting Mars.
In addition, NASA future plans include the 2013 launch of the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) orbiter to study the Martian upper atmosphere; the Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission, which will take the first look into the deep interior of Mars; and participation in ESA’s 2016 and 2018 ExoMars missions.
The plan to design and build a new Mars robotic science rover with a launch in 2020 comes only months after the agency announced InSight, which will launch in 2016, bringing a total of seven NASA missions operating or being planned to study and explore Mars and provide another step toward landing humans there in the 2030s, NASA said.
According to the U.S. space agency, the future rover development and design will be based on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) architecture that carried the Curiosity rover to the Martian surface this summer. In addition, it said the specific payload and science instruments for the 2020 mission will be openly competed, following the Science Mission Directorate’s established processes for instrument selection.