Six years from now, NASA will send a brand new rover to Earth’s closest neighboring planet, Mars, the space agency announced late Thursday.
The new rover, dubbed Mars 2020, will search for life on the red planet like its predecessors have done and will complement existing Mars rovers Curiosity and Opportunity. However, Mars 2020 will also have more advanced instruments that will help scientists gain a better understanding of the Martian atmosphere.
Those instruments include a tool that will allow the rover to generate its own oxygen to help test how difficult the process might be if humans were to attempt to colonize the planet. Mars 2020 also will be collecting interesting rock samples that may one day make their way back to Earth. Another tool will allow scientists to use a 3D imaging device to peer 1,600 feet below the planet’s surface, NASA said.
“The 2020 rover will help answer questions about the Martian environment that astronauts will face and test technologies they need before landing on, exploring and returning from the Red Planet,” said NASA’s William Gerstenmaier in a statement. “Mars has resources needed to help sustain life, which can reduce the amount of supplies that human missions will need to carry. Better understanding the Martian dust and weather will be valuable data for planning human Mars missions.”
Check out the full rundown of instruments the Mars 2020 rover will carry on NASA’s JPL website.