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The 2020 Mars mission will feature a souped-up unmanned rover vehicle equipped with seven new instruments to detect signs of ancient microbial life in unexplored areas of the red planet.

Ken Farley, a scientist with the Mars 2020 project said: ”What we learn from the samples collected during this mission has the potential to address whether we're alone in the universe.”

The successor to the 2012 Curiosity rover, which could launch in July or August 2020, will be equipped will also study the Mars terrain, above and below the surface as well as collect soil and rock samples.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is developing a new landing technology that will allow the rover to visit sites deemed too risky for Curiosity and shave miles off its journey.

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Category: Science