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NASA Shows Spacecraft That Will Carry the 2020 Rover to Mars

About a year is left until NASA's most important rover in years departs for Mars in what is likely to be a crucial mission for the future plans to colonize the neighboring planet. In the remaining time, the bits and pieces that will make up the mission are coming into place.
Mars 2020 spacecraft 1 photo
NASA released last week a photo taken at the beginning of the month that shows the spacecraft that will carry the rover to its mission location. The spacecraft was photographed in the Space Simulator Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, prior to the start of testing.

At the top of the photo, still suspended by cables, is the complete cruise stage, the one that will be used to transport the rover through the vastness of interplanetary space for a period of seven months.

Beneath it lies the aeroshell, the protective layer for the rover as it makes its descent to the Martian surface.

Somewhere inside the spacecraft, hidden from view, are the complete descent stage and a copy of the rover that will be used on the actual mission.

The Mars 2020 rover will leave Earth on top of an Atlas V rocket, which will place it into orbit. From there, it will continue its trip inside the spacecraft pictured here.

The Mars 2020 mission is scheduled to depart in July or August next year, depending on weather conditions. After seven months the spacecraft and its cargo will reach their destination in February 2021.

The machine will land in the Jezero Crater on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, an impact basin north of the Martian equator. It is 28 miles wide (45 kilometers wide) and is believed to have once been home to a river Delta.

One of the rover's crucial assignments is to look for signs of ancient life assessing the habitability of the environment, but it is also tasked with tracking natural resources and hazards and even trying to generate oxygen.

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