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Blog Archive


Maintaining the health of an aging Mars orbiter

Emily Lakdawalla • February 14, 2018

NASA has announced changes to how engineers are operating Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in order to prolong its life as long as possible, long enough to support the Mars 2020 rover mission.

Engineering Qualification Model confirms performance of the Mastcam-Z!

Jim Bell • January 30, 2018

Just this past week, assembly of the Mastcam-Z EQM was completed, and we saw for the first time what one of our Mars zoom cameras would really look like.

Mastcam-Z team blog: Landing sites

Katherine Winchell and Elsa Jensen • December 28, 2017

It takes years to decide where a Mars rover is going to land. Members of NASA's Mars 2020's camera team describe their participation in the process.

Mastcam-Z team blog: Preparing for five-hour operations

Elsa Jensen and Katherine Winchell • November 02, 2017

It takes hundreds of scientists and engineers many years to design and build just one instrument for a Mars mission. In the first Mastcam-Z team blog post, we'll talk about the special challenges we expect for Mars 2020 operations, and how we're planning to overcome them.

A future comes into focus for the Mars Exploration Program

Casey Dreier • August 31, 2017

Casey Dreier says NASA's decision to pursue a Mars sample return mission is good news for Mars fans, Mars scientists and supporters of the decadal survey process.

NASA considers kicking Mars sample return into high gear

Jason Davis • August 28, 2017

Thus far, no plan has solidified on how to get soil and rock samples from the upcoming Mars 2020 rover back to Earth. That is starting to change.

Planetary Science Just Got Its Best Budget in Years

Casey Dreier • May 05, 2017

The President signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017, funding the U.S. government for the remainder of the fiscal year. NASA got a boost to $19.65 billion, and its Planetary Science Division saw a budget increase to $1.846 billion—its best budget in more than ten years.

Listen Up! Microphones to Fly to Mars

Bruce Betts • July 15, 2016

The Mars 2020 mission will carry microphones in its EDL package and its SuperCam instrument, which will enable us to finally hear the sounds of Mars. The Planetary Society has been trying to get microphones to Mars for 20 years and is ecstatic that these will fly.

Mars 2020 rover rolls into final design and fabrication phase

Jason Davis • July 15, 2016

NASA's next Mars rover is rolling off the drawing board and into its final design and fabrication phase, the agency announced today, during a televised event at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory that highlighted some of the mission's technology.

NASA's New Budget Would Gut Europa But Otherwise Support Planetary Exploration

Van Kane • February 18, 2016

It’s clear that the President’s budget officers really don’t want to fund a mission to Europa. Other than that, the proposed Fiscal Year 2017 budget submitted by the President last week to Congress would be great for planetary exploration.

A new hope for a microphone on Mars: Enhancing Mars 2020 science with sound

Bruce Betts and Emily Lakdawalla • February 15, 2016

When the Mars 2020 rover lands, we may finally hear the first audio recordings from the Martian surface.

Mastcam-Z has passed its Preliminary Design Review!

Emily Lakdawalla • November 23, 2015

A panel of outside experts reviewed the design of the Mars 2020 rover's color cameras, and approved the progress of Mastcam-Z. It still exists only as an idea in the cloud, but it's one significant step closer to being sent to Mars.

Mastcam-Z: The Future of Stereo Imaging on Mars

Bruce Betts • October 29, 2015

An introduction to the Mastcam-Z stereo imager on the Mars 2020 rover, and brief reporting and reflections on team meetings, science instruments, and the exciting future of The Planetary Society covering the entire lifetime of this instrument, from design to Mars images.

Why Return to the Columbia Hills?

Alex Longo • October 23, 2015

Where should NASA’s next Mars rover, the Mars 2020 sample caching mission, land? One site under consideration is Spirit's old stomping ground, the Columbia Hills.

Mars 2020 and the Adaptive Caching Assembly: An Intern’s Perspective

Jake Rosenthal • October 12, 2015

Jet Propulsion Laboratory summer intern Jake Rosenthal shares his thoughts on the Mars 2020 sample caching technology currently in development.

Update on NASA Mars Rover Plans

Van Kane • August 05, 2015

The second in a series of meetings to select the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover is in progress. Van Kane gives us an update.

Mars Plans Advance (and Occasionally Fade)

Van Kane • May 08, 2015

In the last two months, there has been significant news about the European-Russian 2018 mission and about NASA’s 2020 rover. NASA also has announced that it would like to send a new orbiter to the Red Planet in the early 2020s.

Join me in Washington, D.C. for a post-Thanksgiving Celebration of Planetary Exploration

Casey Dreier • November 26, 2014

See Bill Nye, Europa scientist Kevin Hand, and Mars scientist Michael Meyer speak at a special event on Capitol Hill on December 2nd.

Mars 2020 Instruments – A Plan for Sample Return

Van Kane • August 08, 2014

Van Kane gives us a tour of the instruments selected for the Mars 2020 rover.

[Updated]: NASA Selects 7 Science Instruments for its Next Mars Rover

Casey Dreier • July 31, 2014

Seven science instruments will help the Mars 2020 rover identify biosignatures and understand the history of the rocks it encounters on the surface of the red planet.

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