NASA Mars 2020 Mission: Martian Meteorite Will Be On Board

Chunk will serve as target practice for high-precision laser on rover's arm

Image Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA chooses wisely when packing up a payload to send to space and beyond. But for the next mission to Mars there will be something a little extra packed into the rover, a chunk of meteorite. The mission is set to launch in 2020.

The meteorite, called Sayh al Uhaymir 008 or SaU008, was found in 1999 in Oman and was later determined to have come from Mars. NASA isn’t just sending the meteorite back to the planet so it can return home, it’s going to serve an actual purpose.

One of the main tasks the rover’s mission will require that it collect samples of rock to potentially send back to Earth. The laser on the rover will be used to show rock features and help determine which samples to take will need to be calibrated once it arrives on Mars, said NASA. The SaU008 meteorite will be used to do this calibration and to get the settings on the laser just right. Essentially the meteorite will serve as the target for target practice.

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