The Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals has a nickname: SHERLOC. Mounted on the rover's robotic arm, SHERLOC uses spectrometers, a laser and a camera to search for organics and minerals that have been altered by watery environments and may be signs of past microbial life.
This image shows the location of SHERLOC on the Mars 2020 rover: it is on the turret, or hand, of the rover's robotic arm.
decorative gear graphic

Tech Specs

  • MAIN JOB:Fine-scale detection of minerals, organic molecules and potential biosignatures
  • LOCATION:Mounted on the turret at the end of the robotic arm
  • MASS:Turret:
    6.86 pounds
    (3.11 kilograms)
    Body:3.55 pounds
    (1.61 kilograms) body
  • POWER:Turret:
    32.2 watts
    Body:16.6 watts
  • VOLUME:10.2 by 7.8 by 2.6 inches
    (26.0 by 20.0 by 6.7 centimeters)
  • DATA RETURN:79.7 Mbits (raw)
  • SPATIAL RESOLUTION:Context imager:
    30 micrometers
    Laser:50 micrometers
  • FIELD OF VIEW:Imaging:
    0.9 to 0.5 inches
    (2.3 by 1.5 centimeters)
    Spectroscopy:7 by 7 millimeters
    (0.275 inch)
image of Luther Beegle
Luther Beegle
Principal Investigator
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, California

"Key, driving questions are whether Mars is or was ever inhabited, and if not, why not? The SHERLOC investigation will advance the understanding of Martian geologic history and identify its past biologic potential."

-- Luther Beegle

Did You Know?

The Story Behind the Name: SHERLOC

This meteorite never left Mars. Mars rover Opportunity found it!

SHERLOC may carry tiny pieces of a Martian meteorite that once was blasted off of Mars by an impact, traveled for billions of years through space, and landed on Earth. As far as anyone knows, it would be the first Martian meteorite to make the round trip from Earth, all the way back to the Red Planet!

Five Things To Know
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SHERLOC works all shifts
works all shifts
SHERLOC operates day or night.
SHERLOC: no touch required

no touch required
The Mars 2020 Rover places SHERLOC about two inches above its target to gather data. That way, it is close, but doesn't contaminate the scene of the investigation.
SHERLOC has an eye for detail

an eye for
SHERLOC has a magnifying glass just like the fictional detective to see
fine detail.
SHERLOC collects clues

SHERLOC collects clues
SHERLOC uses ultraviolet laser light to spot organic chemicals in much the same way modern crime scene investigators look for forensic clues.
SHERLOC tests spacesuit material
      SHERLOC carries
small pieces of
spacesuit material.
It targets them to test its
accuracy and to see how
they hold up in
the harsh Martian

SHERLOC:  The Story Behind the Name

The Story Behind the Name: SHERLOC

Sherlock Holmes was a fictional detective who solved crimes. He used forensic methods. These include scientific observation and powers of logical reasoning. SHERLOC observes and measures too. It will look for possible evidence of past life on Mars – if any microbes ever existed.

Dr. John H. Watson was Holmes’ partner in solving mysteries. WATSON the camera assists SHERLOC as it helps solve mysteries about life on Mars.

With its camera sidekick WATSON, SHERLOC even has a modern version of the hand-lens magnifying glass used by the classic British detective!