Engineers Take NASA's Mars 2020 Rover for First Test Drive
In December, 2019, engineers in the Spacecraft Assembly Facility clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory demonstrated that all of the Mars 2020 rover systems were working together. The rover steered, turned, and drove in 3-foot increments over small ramps. The next time the Mars 2020 rover drives, it will be doing so over Martian soil. Scheduled to launch in July or August 2020, the Mars 2020 mission will characterize the planet's climate and geology and collect samples, search for signs of past microbial life, and pave the way for human exploration. It is scheduled to land in February 2021. Compared to previous rovers, the Mars 2020 rover is more autonomous. It's equipped with higher-resolution, wide-field-of-view color navigation cameras, an extra computer for processing images and making maps, and more sophisticated auto-navigation software.