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NASA’s next Mars rover, planned for 2020, should look like the current rover Curiosity but would be equipped with new tools to look for chemical and geological signs of life and to store samples for potential return to Earth, scientists say in a new report to the space agency. By basing the next rover on Curiosity’s design and architecture, NASA would save money and have a vehicle that mission controllers are familiar with, the scientists say. The new rover would contain a “modest but highly capable payload,” with instruments determined through a competition. Such a rover could accomplish its mission within current budget constraints, the scientists maintain. They add that the data the rover collects and insights from technological demonstrations it makes could bring a human mission to the Red Planet closer to reality.
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