However, returning the samples to Earth would likely require two additional missions: one rover to land on Mars, take the samples collected by Mars 2020, and launch them into Mars orbit; and another to collect the sample canister in Mars orbit and return it to Earth.
Based on input from the Science Definition Team, NASA defined the final objectives for the 2020 rover.
This reduces overall technical risk for the mission, while saving funds and time on development. Representative Adam Schiff came out in support of the Mars rover mission plans, saying that "an upgraded rover with additional instrumentation and capabilities is a logical next step that builds upon now proven landing and surface operations systems." Schiff also said he favored an expedited launch in 2018 which would enable an even greater payload to be launched to Mars.
In October 2016, NASA reported using the Xombie rocket to test the Lander Vision System (LVS), as part of the Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT) experimental technologies, for the Mars 2020 mission landing. Schiff said he would be working with NASA, White House administration and Congress to explore the possibility of advancing the launch date.
Power is generated by two round photovoltaic arrays, each 2.15 m (7.1 ft) in diameter and consisting of Sol Aero ZTJ triple-junction solar cells made of In Ga P/In Ga As/Ge arranged on Orbital ATK Ultra Flex arrays.
After touchdown on the Martian surface, the arrays are deployed by opening up like a folding fan.
On 9 July 2013, the Mars 2020 Science Definition Team reiterated that the rover should look for signs of past life, collect samples for possible future return to Earth, and demonstrate technology for future human exploration of Mars.
An optimal area that meets all these requirements is Elysium Planitia, so all 22 initial potential landing sites were located in this area.It will then be used to help engineers and scientists guide the deployment of the instruments to the ground.With a 45-degree field of view, the camera will also provide a panoramic view of the terrain surrounding the landing site. The launch is being managed by NASA's Launch Services Program.NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will take over development of the vacuum container for SEIS, with France's space agency, CNES, handling instrument integration and test activities.The spacecraft is scheduled to launch on for a Mars landing on 26 November; the flight plan remains unchanged, and launch will take place aboard an Atlas V rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.