Technology

Using Proven Technologies and Advancing New Ones

Technology development makes missions possible.

Each Mars mission is part of a continuing chain of innovation. Each relies on past missions for proven technologies and contributes its own innovations to future missions. This chain allows NASA to push the boundaries of what is currently possible, while still relying on proven technologies.

The Mars 2020 mission leverages the successful architecture of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission by duplicating most of its entry, descent, and landing system and much of its rover design.

The mission advances several technologies, including those related to priorities in the National Research Council's 2011 Decadal Survey and for future human missions to Mars. Plans include infusing new capabilities through investments by NASA's Space Technology Program, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, and contributions from international partners.

Many innovations focus on entry, descent, and landing technologies, which help ensure precise and safe landings. They include sensors to measure the atmosphere, cameras and a microphone, and at least two key ways to reach the surface of Mars with greater accuracy and less risk (Range Trigger and Terrain-Relative Navigation).

Infographic about the Mars 2020 rover engineering facts (new wheels, microphone, rock core sampling, producing oxygen from Mars' carbon-dioxide, and landing sensors).
Terrain-Relative Navigation is an innovative entry, descent, and landing technology that allows the rover to detect tricky terrain and divert itself to a safer landing area.