Mars 2020 mission

mission specific


Mission Overview

The goals of the Mars 2020 mission are to seek signs of life and to collect rock and soil samples for a possible future return to Earth. The Perseverance Rover explores the landing site and acquires imaging, spectroscopy, and other measurements to characterize Martian soils, rocks, atmosphere, and other aspects of the environment. Perseverance carries seven scientific instruments and a sample acquisition and caching system. The various payload elements are used as an integrated suite of tools to characterize the local geology, to study particular rock and soil targets, to characterize the local environment, and to acquire and cache selected rock and soil samples. The prime mission for the rover is expected to be 836 sols (approximately 2.5 Earth years), with the possibility of an extended mission of unknown duration after that.

The seven science instruments can be classified into the following groups.

Remote sensing

Mounted on the top of a mast are the Mastcam-Z multispectral, stereoscopic imaging system with zoom capability provided by Arizona State University (PI: James Bell); SuperCam, a suite of six instruments in one including a laser-induced breakdown spectrometer, Raman spectrometer, Time-Resolved Fluorescence spectrometer, visible and infrared spectrometer, remote micro-imager, and microphone provided by Los Alamos National Laboratory (PI: Roger Wiens); and mounted on the body of the rover is RIMFAX, a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) provided by Forsvarets Forskning Institute (FFI), Norway (PI: Svein-Erik Hamran).

Proximity science

On the end of the robotic arm are PIXL, a microfocus X-ray fluorescence instrument provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (PI: Abigail Allwood), and SHERLOC, Deep UV (DUV) resonance Raman and fluorescence spectrometer provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (PI: Luther Beegle). Both proximity science instruments have mapping capabilities supported by their own integrated imagers. In addition, SHERLOC includes a second imager (WATSON) to be used for science and engineering purposes with high spatial resolution, color, and infinity focus.

Environmental measurements

Mounted on the mast is MEDA, a meteorology package provided by the Centro de Astrobiología/ Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial (PI: José Antonio Rodríguez-Manfredi).

In-situ resource utilization

Mounted on the rover body is MOXIE, a demonstration of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technologies provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (PI: Michael Hecht).

Technology demonstration

The Mars 2020 rover carries a helicopter as a technology demonstration. The helicopter will fly up to 5 times over a ~30 sol period early in the mission. The helicopter carries two cameras, one for navigation and one for capturing aerial views for science evaluation. The images are stored onboard during flight, and then are transmitted to the rover afterwards for relay to Earth.

Key aspects of each science investigation

Investigation Key Parameters Science Measurements
Mastcam-Z Mastcam-Z consists of two matched cameras, Mastcam-Left and Mastcam-Right with a 3.6:1 zoom range (28mm to 100mm). Both have an integrated RGB Bayer pattern filter integrated over their detector for natural color plus narrow-band filters (430-1085nm range) for scientific color. 1600 × 1200 pixel images. At the narrowest field of view (100mm), the cameras have 7.4 cm/pixel scale at 1 km distance and ~150 μm/pixel scale at 2 m distance. At the widest field of view (28mm), the cameras have a 532 μm/pixel scale at 2 m distance and 27 cm/pixel at 1 km. HD video at ~4 frames per second, 1280 × 720 pixels. Observations of geologic structures and features. Studies of landscape, rocks, fines, soils, frost/ice, and atmospheric features.
SuperCam (remote-sensing composition and high-resolution imaging) Laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) measurements made from a distance of up to 7 meters; 240-850 nm spectral range, 14-bit dynamic resolution over 8194 channels. Dust removal over a ~1 cm diameter region. Raman spectroscopy measurements made from a distance of up to 12 meters; 150-4400 cm-1 spectral range at better than 10 cm-1 resolution; Time-resolved fluorescence with better than 25 ns adjustable time resolution. High-resolution color context imaging with a > 15 mrad field of view and < 0.020 mrad pixel resolution. Microphone to measure the pressure wave produced by the generation of plasma at a LIBS target. Rapid chemical and mineralogical composition of rocks and soils and high-resolution color imaging from a distance.
Hazcams (Hazard Cameras) Color stereo imaging in front of rover and rear of rover, 0.4 mrad IFOV, 90°x120° FOV; 5120x3840 pixel images.

Imaging used for hazard avoidance during traverses and robotic arm deployment support. Also useful as science imaging of rocks and soils, targeted remote sensing


Navcam: 640x480 pixel 8-bit grayscale images pointing straight down from the belly of the helicopter. Return to Earth camera: 4224x3120 pixel 8-bit color images. Mounted on the side of the helicopter facing downward at an angle to see both nadir and horizon.

Imaging used by onboard navigation software to determine helicopter position and attitude and to help navigate.

Navcams (Navigation Cameras)

Color stereo imaging on Remote Sensing Mast (RSM), 360 degree azimuthal field of regard, +/90 degrees elevation, 0.3 mrad IFOV, 70°x90° FOV; 5120x3840 pixel images.

Imaging used for planning rover traverses and targeted remote sensing. Also useful as science imaging of geologic structures and features, rocks, and soils.

PIXL (Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry)

Microfocus X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy using a Rh X-ray tube, a polycapillary focusing optic, and energy-dispersive Silicon Drift Detectors (SDD) to provide an X-ray spectral range from <1 keV to 28 keV. Measures abundances of 23 elements with a spatial resolution of 125 um at a distance of 3 cm. Micro-context camera images register element distributions to visual features.

Abundances and sub-millimeter-scale distribution of elements in relation to rock/soil texture and microstructure.
SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals)

Laser Raman spectroscopy and imaging measurements taken from a distance of ~30 mm. 50 um beam diameter, 30 um depth of penetration, 7 f-number collection aperture. Single in-focus 2D, 11 bit context-imaging. DUV fluorescence/Raman spectra from an average over 49, 1 x 1 mm areas over a 7 x 7 mm FOV. 2048 x 1 pixel data products for each point of a 400 point 50 μm/pixel map over a nominal 1 x 1 mm surface.

Non-contact, spatially resolved, and highly sensitivity detection and characterization of organics and minerals in the Martian surface and near subsurface.
MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment)

Technology Demonstration: In situ resource utilization of Martian atmospheric CO2, which is collected and delivered at 1 atm of pressure to a solid oxide electrolyzer operating at 800 °C that electrochemically generates O2. The science measurements will characterize MOXIE performance on Mars to inform next generation, scaled up designs.

Effluent waste and product stream composition to determine oxygen production rate and purity; CO2 flow rate; and temperature, voltage and current of the electrolyzer.

MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer)

Variable sampling rate acquisitions (max 2Hz) at regular intervals of: Air temperature (range 150K-300K). Pressure (1-1200Pa). Humidity (1-100% RH). Vertical and 2-D horizontal wind speed (0-70m/s). Downward sky IR radiation (bands 6-35,14.5-15.5 microns, overall temp range 173K-293K) and upward surface IR radiation (6-35, 8-14, 16-20 microns, target temp range 173K-293K). Downward sky irradiance fluxes in 8 bands (255, 295, 250-400, 450, 650, 880, 950, 190-1100 nm), and side-pointing photodetectors (880 nm and 27.5 deg. above the deck). Upward pointing CCD sensor with a +/- 60 degrees FOV around zenith.

Characterization of near-surface optical opacity and angular scattering properties of atmospheric aerosols (special emphasis on atmospheric dust size and morphology), as well as thermal response of atmosphere, radiative and convective forcing of surface and atmosphere, surface pressure cycle, water cycle and wind speed and direction

RIMFAX (Ground Penetrating Radar, mounted on back of rover)

Gated Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave Radar (150 MHz – 1200 MHz frequency range)

Subsurface radar profiles measured every 10 cm along rover track, with vertical resolution of <30 cm and penetration depths of more than 10 meters depending on materials.

Returned Sample Science

Time, rover location and orientation, site information, sample drill location, other parameters associated with drilling, final sample cache location, tracking information including sample collection plans and uplinked sequences (e.g. documentation of why this target was drilled).

Observations that provide context for sample collection, including before and after images, other data that document the drill target and cache location, including remote sensing data