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NASA Rover to Carry Martian Meteor Back to Where It Came From

Two years from now, a new mission is planned by NASA to reach planet Mars, after nearly a 17-years hiatus. On board of the spacecraft heading for the Red Planet will be the agency’s newest Rover, and it will carry with it a very special cargo.
NASA 2020 Rover 1 photo
In the year 1999, a space rock weighing 8.58 kg was found in Oman and identified as not of this world. Geologists believe the meteor originated from Mars, and NASA now plans to send it back, but with a purpose: to serve as a control sample for research to be conducted on similar Martian formations.

According to Space.com, NASA is currently using the meteor to calibrate an instrument called Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals. If you like acronyms, and in this case we do too, that’s SHERLOC. And it will be fitted on NASA’s 2020 Rover.

SHERLOC will try and identify chemicals in Martian rocks, and what better way to test its capabilities than practicing on an actual meteor? Following the calibration, which will be done on Earth, the small piece of another planet will board the Rover and travel back to where it came from, to continue acting as a calibration tool.

The Rover which will give back to Mars what it rightfully owns is based on the Curiosity Rover configuration and is about the size of a small car. Not including the arm, it measures 10 feet long (3 meters), 9 feet wide (2.7 meters), and 7 feet tall (2.2 meters).

It will also carry several high-tech scientific instruments on its mission, allowing it to measure temperature, wind direction, and speed, or dust size. Most importantly, it will start the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), aiming to find the best ways for humans to create oxygen on Mars. If it works, Mars’ terraformation will have started with the 2020 Rover.

 
 
 
 
 

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