Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Next Mars rover will hunt for life

10 July 2013, 12:03

Washington - The next robotic rover to explore Mars in 2020 should scour the surface of the red planet more closely than ever for signs of past life, a Nasa science team said on Tuesday.

The US space agency's science definition team (SDT) released a 154-page document containing its proposals for the next Mars rover, after five months of work.

The mission would use microscopic analysis for the first time, collect the first rock samples for possible return to Earth and test ways to use natural resources on site for a future human trip, it said.

The Mars 2020 mission would build on the work being done by Nasa's Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the red planet since August 2012 and has already found evidence of potentially habitable environments.

The mission would present "a major step toward seeking signs of life," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at Nasa headquarters.


The next step is for Nasa to analyse the recommendations and issue a call for scientific instruments, which could include higher resolution imaging devices, microscopes, fine scale minerology, chemistry and organic carbon detection tools to scan for biosignatures on the surface of Mars.

"To combine this suite of instruments would be incredibly powerful," said Jack Mustard, SDT chair and professor of geological sciences at Brown University.

The rover would collect about 31 samples that might someday be returned to Earth, representing "a legacy for understanding the development of habitability on the planet", he told reporters.

The US space agency has not yet devised the technology to bring the cache back to Earth without disturbing its contents, and no plans have been set for any potential sample-return.

The next Nasa mission to Mars is a November launch of Maven, an orbiter that will study how Mars interacted with the solar wind and lost its atmosphere.

The European Space Agency will follow in 2018 with its ExoMars rover.

John Grunsfeld, NASA's associate administrator for science, said the 2020 Mars rover would get the US space agency to the next step in the "quest to answer the grand questions," before a planned human mission in the 2030s.

"Do we see any evidence of past life in those habitable environments?" he said, alluding to the aims of the future missions.


Tags nasa space

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
DP Ruto accuses Raila of selling ...

DP Wiliam Ruto has castigated Raila Odinga for seeking western support to fund his 2017 election bid. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Peter Kenneth announces Uhuru 201...

Peter Kenneth has announced that he will support President Uhuru Kenyatta in the 2017 elections. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilon Ochieng
Labour Party to dump both Jubilee...

The Labour Party of Kenya is likely to avoid supportoing both the CORD and Jubilee factions during the 2017 General Elections. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
Ukambani MP quits Jubilee, to run...

An Ukambani MP has quit the Jubilee Party, citing voter apathy as his reason behind leaving the ruling coalition. Read more...

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
Government launches probe into Po...

The government has launched an inquiry into the circumstances that could have led to two National Police Service helicopter accidents in August and September this year. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilwon Ochieng
Deputy Governor's ally found with...

The EACC has recovered KES 2 million in fake currency from a close ally of Deputy Governor for Tharaka Nithi Eliud Mati. Read more...