Western Slope Skies - Mars Rover 2020

Mar 6, 2020

Credit NASA

In July of this year NASA will be launching our next rover to Mars, currently known as Mars Rover 2020.

Greetings, my name is Brenda Harvey and I am a volunteer Solar System Ambassador with NASA/JPL. Part of my job is to keep the community informed of NASA happenings.

Why are we sending another Rover to Mars? There are several science goals that NASA hopes to achieve with this endeavor. First, determine whether life could have arisen on Mars and to seek signs of past microbial life. The Rover will try to identify past environments that may have able to support microbial life. Second, characterize the present and past climate of Mars. Third, characterize the geology of Mars, which will include collecting core samples of rock that will be stored on the Martian surface to be retrieved in future missions and returned to Earth. The final science goal is to prepare for human exploration, which will involve the testing of oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere.

The Rover is scheduled to land on February 18, 2021 at the Jezero Crater.

The Mars Rover 2020 is set to have its name by the end of this month. NASA /JPL opened the naming contest to all K-12 students  in the US. Each entry had to be accompanied with a 150-word essay. More than 28,000 essays were submitted after the contest began August 28 of last year. Currently there are 9 finalists, which include Endurance, Tenacity, Promise, Perseverance, Vision, Clarity, Fortitude and Courage. One of these will be the name of the NASA Rover 2020.

To follow the Rover in its new and exciting journey or to see what the other rovers are doing and have done on Mars, go to mars.nasa.gov to keep up with the latest happenings.

You have been listening to the Western Slope Skies, produced by the Black Canyon Astronomical Society. This episode was written and recorded by NASA Solar System Ambassador Brenda Harvey.

UPDATE: On March 5th, after this episode was recorded, NASA announced the winner. The Mars Rover 2020 is now known as Perseverance.