WASHINGTON — NASA is officially seeking proposals for science investigations to be undertaken by a clone of the Curiosity rover now set to launch to Mars by August 2020.

In a solicitation released Sept. 24, NASA said it would carve about $100 million out of its Science Mission Directorate budget for development of hardware, software and concepts for the Mars 2020 rover’s science investigations. Another $60 million has been earmarked for science operations on the martian surface. 

NASA’s Human Spaceflight and Space Technology directorates will also kick in a combined $30 million, including the cost of surface operations, for investigations into technology development that could help NASA to one day send human explorers to the red planet.

Interested parties should submit a notice of intent to propose to NASA by Oct. 15. Final proposals are due Dec. 23, according to the solicitation. 

NASA plans to build the Mars 2020 rover out of spare parts from Curiosity, the car-size rover that touched down on the martian surface in August 2012. The agency has said the new rover should cost about $1.5 billion, or nearly $1 billion less than Curiosity itself.


Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...