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NASA announces its Mars 2020 instruments

At a press conference Thursday, NASA unveiled the instruments that will be used by the Mars 2020 rover. The rover will use seven instruments to build on the Curiosity Rover's activity on the planet. Michael Meyer, lead scientist at the Mars Exploration Program, detailed the rover's four objectives: going to the region, looking for biosignatures, taking samples, and making way for human exploration. Each of the seven instruments will work toward these goals.

Two of the instruments on the rover's mast are high-tech cameras that will allow better models of Mars than previous rovers. The "Mastcam-Z" has a new zoom capability that other NASA rover cameras have lacked, and the "SuperCam" will be able to identify minerals using remote sensing technology.

Arguably the most interesting of the instruments, though, is located on the rover's body. The "MOXIE" will be able to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and convert it into oxygen, which will make human exploration much easier. The other instruments will help the rover characterize the planet's weather and mineralogy.

"No measurement... is done by only one instrument," Meyer said. "They overlap, and they complement each other."