Posted March 14, 2020 10:51:37Curiosity and the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity are set to begin their first missions to the Red Planet on Friday, March 14.
The $2.5 billion Mars Exploration Rovers (MERs) are scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in order to visit a crater known as CheMin.
MERs are expected to arrive on Mars in mid-July and will be able to study a region called Gale Crater and other regions on the Red Mars, such as Gale Craters 2, 3 and 4, and the ancient lakes on Mars called Huygens Crater.
The two rovers are slated to perform extensive roverscholarship work in Gale Crator, which is located just below the crater, to determine whether the impact of a meteorite could have altered the surface composition of the Red Martian.
The rover team also plans to drill a small section of the surface, known as the Red Chamber, in a way to study the geological history of the region.
The chamber, which contains the largest volume of rock on Mars, has been a concern for scientists because it could contain some of the largest veins on the planet, and it’s not known whether the veins will hold the same mineralogical features.
A team of scientists, including MER scientists and geologist Peter Betts of the University of Arizona, are planning to visit the chamber and use spectroscopy to study how the veins form.
Betts said the chamber was originally intended to be filled with liquid water and water ice, but the lack of any water prevented scientists from filling the chamber with water ice.
The researchers plan to use a spectrometer to map out the veins, and if the team can find evidence of water ice on the veins themselves, they could use a magnetometer to measure the density of the water ice in the chamber, and use it to infer the composition of water in the water, Betts said.
The team also hopes to study changes in the chemical composition of a large chunk of rock that’s in the Chamber, and what kinds of chemical processes could be going on there, Betz said.
The Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity, the second rover on the rovers mission, will also be carrying a variety of instruments to gather more data about the Red Craters, including soil samples and soil microfossils, and they’re planning to collect soil samples from different locations in the Red Marches, including some of Mars’ most ancient structures.
Curiosity has been on the Mars Exploration Program since 2012, and this is the third rover mission to be launched on the 2020s Mars 2020 mission, which also has a roverscope and a rover.NASA is currently developing a new version of the Curiosity rover for its 2020 Mars mission, and NASA is also planning to send a robotic probe to Mars in 2020.