NASA finalizes next Mars rover, inching closer to 2020 launch

Almost four years after NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars, the space agency has decided to move forward with the final design and construction of its next rover to explore the Red Planet. For now dubbed simply the Mars 2020 rover, the machine will help NASA scientists investigate Martian surface rocks for signs of prior life, collect samples, and store them for recovery by missions in the future.

“The Mars 2020 rover is the first step in a potential multi-mission campaign to return carefully selected and sealed samples of Martian rocks and soil to Earth,” Geoffrey Yoder, acting associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a NASA press release. “This mission marks a significant milestone in NASA’s Journey to Mars — to determine whether life has ever existed on Mars, and to advance our goal of sending humans to the Red Planet.”

The Mars 2020 rover will follow the design of Curiosity, but it will be packed with updated instruments and backed by a team of scientists who’ve been around a Martian dune or two. The new rover will be equipped with a coring drill to collect specimens and sample tubes for storage. Some 30 samples tubes will be left around the Red Planet for future collection. On Earth, the samples may be analyzed for signs of life and to detect potential health hazards for future manned missions to Mars.

NASA is also trying to bring the Mars mission closer to those on Earth by equipping the rover with a microphone and range of cameras to record the images and sounds of its entry.

“Nobody has ever seen what a parachute looks like as it is opening in the Martian atmosphere,” JPL’s David Gruel, assistant flight system manager for the Mars 2020 mission, said in the press release. “So this will provide valuable engineering information.”

“This will be a great opportunity for the public to hear the sounds of Mars for the first time, and it could also provide useful engineering information,” added Mars 2020 deputy project manager Matt Wallace of JPL.

With this plan to progress, the Mars 2020 mission passes it’s third milestone into Phase C of development, which includes design and fabrication. With Phase C and Phase D (system assembly) complete, the mission will be on track to launch in the summer of 2020.

Emerging Tech

Google wants to map the world's air quality. Here's how.

For the past several years, a growing number of Google’s Street View cars have been doing more than just taking photos. They’ve also been measuring air quality. Here's why that's so important.
Emerging Tech

See a fly-over of Mars and track the path Curiosity will take up Mount Sharp

A new animation from NASA shows a fly-over of Mount Sharp on Mars, the location where the Curiosity rover is currently exploring. It also shows the path that Curiosity will take over the next few years.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (May 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

Doom, Wolfenstein, and more are sure bets for the Bethesda E3 conference

Bethesda will once again host its own press conference at E3 2019. The Bethesda E3 Showcase is sure to feature new game announcements. Here's how to watch the Bethesda press conference and what to expect.
Emerging Tech

Get ready to waste your day with this creepily accurate text-generating A.I.

Remember the text-generating A.I. created by research lab OpenA.I. that was supposedly too dangerous to release to the public? Well, someone just released a version of it. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

Think your kid might have an ear infection? This app can confirm it

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a new A.I.-powered smartphone app that’s able to listen for ear infections with a high level of accuracy. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

San Francisco won the battle, but the war on facial-recognition has just begun

San Francisco has become the first city in America to ban facial recognition. Well, kind of. While the ruling only covers certain applications, it's nonetheless vitally important. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX calls off Starlink launch just 15 minutes before liftoff

High winds above Cape Canaveral on Wednesday night forced SpaceX to postpone the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket in a mission that would have marked the first major deployment of the company’s Starlink internet satellites.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX scraps second effort to launch 60 Starlink satellites

Wednesday's planned SpaceX launch of 60 Starlink satellites was pushed back due to bad weather. Thursday's launch has also been postponed, so the company said it will try again next week.
Emerging Tech

UV-activated superglue could literally help to heal broken hearts

Scientists at China's Zhejiang University have developed a UV-activated adhesive glue that is capable of efficiently healing damage to organs, including the heart. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

USC’s penny-sized robotic bee is the most sci-fi thing you’ll see all week

Engineers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have built a bee-inspired robot that weighs just 95 grams and is smaller than a penny. Check it out in action here.
Emerging Tech

Purdue’s robotic hummingbird is nearly as nimble as the real thing

A team of engineers in Purdue University’s Bio-Robotics Lab have developed an impressively agile flying robot, modeled after the hummingbird. Check it out in all its robotic hovering glory.
Emerging Tech

Watch this drone dodge an incoming soccer ball autonomously

Most drones aren't very good at avoiding incoming objects. But now a team from the University of Zurich has developed a drone which can dodge, swoop, and dive to avoid an incoming football.
Emerging Tech

Experts warn 5G could interfere with weather forecasts, reducing accuracy by 30%

Experts and officials have warned that interference from 5G wireless radios could seriously compromise the ability to forecast weather, including the prediction of extreme weather events like hurricanes.