A second Curiosity-like rover will touch down on Mars in 2020, John Mace Grunsfeld, announced today at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.
Grunsfeld is a Management Astronaut and the Associate Administrator of the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters.
NASA will be saving money on the rover by reusing the plans that they used on Curiosity, and they even have a spare The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) — the radioactive generator that powers the rover.
How much will this save? About a billion dollars. Planetary society reports from the conference:
Total cost will be budgeted around 1.5 billion. #AGU12
— Planetary Society (@exploreplanets) December 4, 2012
The mission won’t be paid for by taking money for other budgets, Grunsfeld said. We’ll update you after the planned 7PM EST press conference.
Not everyone is happy about the announcement.
— Paul Wren (@ElevenPointTwo) December 4, 2012