NASA‘s Mars 2020 rover is set to launch between mid-July and early August and will get to Mars‘ surface in February of 2021. As soon as it landed in the Jezero Crater, the probe will start analyzing the surface and undergrounds of the Red Planet.
Its mission will include searching for evidence of the planet’s prior habitability and the probable existence of life, either past or present, as well as a sample-return task. To carry out these projects, the Mars 2020 rover will be depending on an advanced set of instruments, such as the SuperCam, which includes a camera, a laser, and spectrometers. The tool is attached to the probe’s head, and as soon as it is functional, it will be utilized to analyze the chemistry and mineralogy of Martian rocks and possible microbial life.
Mars 2020’s SuperCam – The Most Important Instrument On Board
The SuperCam is one of the seven tools utilized by the rover and merges a bunch of sizeable devices into one set the size of a cereal box. The instrument will be crucial to the collection of rock core samples that will be stored in the probe’s caching system. These samples will be gathered in some metal tubes and preserved in a certain location for a future mission to collect them and bring them to Earth for analysis. SuperCam will also use artificial intelligence (AI) to find targets worth studying when the expedition controllers are out of reach.
The AI utilized by the Mars 2020 rover will be an advanced version of that used by Curiosity rover, Mars 2020’s predecessor. The enhancements in AI would enable the SuperCam to point itself very accurately at small rock features.
Another new instrument that Curiosity did not have is a green laser that can decide the molecular composition of surface elements by stirring their chemical links. SuperCam will also be capable of using solar reflected visible and infrared (VISIR) light to find particular kinds of minerals.
Capturing Sounds on Mars
The SuperCam also has a microphone so that engineers will be able to listen to the sound made by the laser when it hits a target. According to the rock’s material composition, the sound will differ.
Sylvestre Maurice, a researcher with the Institute for Research in Astrophysics and Planetary Science (IRAP) and part of the SuperCam’s science team, explained: “The microphone serves a practical purpose by telling us something about our rock targets from a distance. But we can also use it to directly record the sound of the Martian landscape or the rover’s mast swiveling,”
The Mars 2020 program will be the third time that a microphone of this specific design is transported to the Red Planet. The mission will also have an entry, descent, and landing microphone that will register the sounds created by the EDL module’s descent through the planet’s atmosphere.
The audio it captures will also be added to the color video shot by the probe’s cameras, which will enable viewers to understand what a landing on Mars looks and sounds.