NASA receives instrument proposals for next Mars rover

NASA reported yesterday that it has received 58 proposals for science and exploration technology instruments to fly aboard its next Mars rover, which is scheduled to launch in 2020. That is twice the number submitted for other recent instrument competitions, the agency said.

NASA opened the competition for Mars 2020 research proposals in September and closed it last week. Proposals came from NASA facilities, academia, industry, research laboratories, government agencies and international partners.

President Obama said he believes human exploration of Mars will be possible by the 2030s, but robots will lead the way by helping scientists understand the hazards of Martian dust or useful information like how to collect carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. One of the goals of the next rover will also be to collect rock and soil samples that can potentially be returned to Earth for analysis.

For more on the Mars rover program, NASA is hosting a news conference tomorrow (Jan. 23) at 2 p.m. EST to reflect on 10 years of exploring the Red Planet. The briefing will be Webcast live here.

[ image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech ]