NASA is launching a rover to explore the interior of Mars with the goal of detecting signs of ancient microbial life.
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will search for evidence of microbial life, according to NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission managers.
NASA said in a statement on Tuesday that the rover will search the surface of Mars using a suite of robotic tools to analyze Martian rock samples and soil samples.
“We are excited to use the Mars Recorder to find microbial life on Mars and explore the Red Planet’s past in a way that will help answer the questions that have long fascinated scientists,” said JPL scientist Mark Geyer.NASA’s Mars Recorders rover will begin its mission to Mars in 2019, but the first sample will be collected on the surface by 2020.
The new mission is designed to look for microbial and organic compounds in rocks that NASA says could be clues to the planet’s ancient history.NASA and the U.S. government are also looking to Mars for clues about past water resources and the existence of a past climate.NASA said the rover team has not yet decided how to address the environmental questions raised by the new sample collection.
It has not said whether the sample collection will be conducted at the same time the rover sample is collected.NASA scientists plan to launch the Mars Exploration Rovers Opportunity, Curiosity and Opportunity to search the Martian surface in 2019.
The rovers will sample rocks and soil on the planet that NASA scientists think could contain clues to its past water and possibly habitable environment.