The Wikipedia page on the plans for NASA's 2020 Mars rover says that it will be designed similarly to Curiosity but will differ in scientific instrumentation because of its goal:

to investigate an astrobiologically relevant ancient environment on Mars, investigate its surface geological processes and history, including the assessment of its past habitability and potential for preservation of biosignatures within accessible geological materials.

The concept sketch of the rover also mentions that there will be some sample return.

Are there any plans or papers yet detailing what difference in instrumentation the 2020 rover will have from Curiosity?


The instrumentation will be completely different. The 2020 SDT report covers in detail the science objectives and types of instrumentation needed to meet those objectives. In short, the instrumentation will be focused on in situ microscopic observations and sample collection and caching for possible return to Earth. Curiosity on the other hand is focusing on laboratory experiments on powdered samples, i.e. mass spectrometer and X-Ray diffraction experiments.

What the instruments are exactly will be determined by the selection in process on the 58 proposals received in response to the Announcement of Opportunity, where the latter goes into great detail on what was requested of the proposers.


The Mars 2020 instruments were selected in July 2014:

rover callout with instruments

The selected instruments are:

  • Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom. The instrument also will determine mineralogy of the Martian surface and assist with rover operations. The principal investigator is James Bell, Arizona State University in Tempe.

  • SuperCam, an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance. The principal investigator is Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico. This instrument also has a significant contribution from the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales,Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Plane’tologie (CNES/IRAP) France.

  • Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. PIXL will provide capabilities that permit more detailed detection and analysis of chemical elements than ever before. The principal investigator is Abigail Allwood, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

  • Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), a spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic compounds. SHERLOC will be the first UV Raman spectrometer to fly to the surface of Mars and will provide complementary measurements with other instruments in the payload. The principal investigator is Luther Beegle, JPL.

  • The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. The principal investigator is Michael Hecht, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), a set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape. The principal investigator is Jose’ Antonio Rodriguez-Manfredi, Centro de Astrobiologia, Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, Spain.

  • The Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface. The principal investigator is Svein-Erik Hamran, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), Norway.


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