Speed Reads

Red Rover

NASA's new rover will search for farmland on Mars

When NASA's 2020 rover touches down on Mars, it will be looking for something a little more typical than tiny green Martians.

The space agency said this week that the future rover's main purpose will be researching whether the planet could eventually sustain human life, CNN reports. That means the 2020 rover will perform basic tasks such as collecting soil samples, and also execute more cutting-edge projects, such as photographing the planet's surface in 3D, panoramic images, so NASA can study whether Mars' chemical makeup is conducive to farming.

The idea is that if astronauts were able to actually live on Mars, NASA could further its exploration of the planet. The 2020 rover will run a feature called the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) to determine whether the planet's atmospheric carbon dioxide could be converted into oxygen. And the presence of oxygen, NASA notes, means that in addition to being able to breathe, astronauts could even make rocket fuel to use for the return trip.