Watch Mars 2020 Come Together

What am I looking at?

You're looking into the Spacecraft Assembly Facility (SAF) cleanroom at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. Engineers are building and testing NASA's next Mars rover, Mars 2020, before it is shipped to its launch site, Kennedy Space Center, in Florida. Engineers are currently working on putting the rover together.

Note: Webchats will occur Mon.-Thu. at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. PDT (2 p.m. and 7 p.m. EDT), with additional moderated chats when special activities (like drive tests) occur.

About Mars 2020

Mars 2020 will be the first mission to look for signs of past life on the Red Planet. The rover will collect and store samples of rock and soil on the surface for a potential future mission to bring back to Earth.

Read more about Mars 2020 ›


The cruise stage, descent stage, aeroshell and rover together make up the spacecraft. As the spacecraft travels down through the Martian atmosphere, certain parts fall away one by one until the rover is safely on solid Martian ground.

Read more about the spacecraft ›
Cruise Stage

Cruise Stage

The cruise stage is the configuration in which Mars 2020 travels to Mars. It includes the aeroshell (backshell and heatshield), in which the rover and its landing system are safely tucked away.
Back Shell


The aeroshell connects to the bottom of the descent stage. It consists of a backshell and heatshield, and that protects the rover from the intense heat experienced during entry into the Martian atmosphere.
Heat Shield

Descent Stage

The descent stage separates from the cruise stage upon arrival in Mars orbit and delivers the rover safely to the ground.
Heat Shield


The rover is a six-wheeled vehicle with science instruments that will make discoveries and collect samples from the Martian surface.

Read more about the rover ›
Heat Shield

Heat Shield

The heat shield is part of the cruise stage, and drops away after Mars 2020 has entered the Martian atmosphere.


  • Spring 2019 Rover Assembly
  • Summer/Fall 2019 Spacecraft Assembly and Stacking
  • Early 2020 Spacecraft Ships to Kennedy Space Center
  • Summer 2020 Vehicle Stacking to Launch Configuration
  • July 2020 Launch Period Opens