Thursday, 06 August, 2020


Excitement as Nasa launches new rover Perseverance to find life on Mars

On Thursday morning researchers will take a step closer to understanding the universe as NASA prepares to launch the Mars 2020 rover On Thursday morning researchers will take a step closer to understanding the universe as NASA prepares to launch the Mars 2020 rover
Kristine Garrett | 31 July, 2020, 23:40

The rover has been scheduled to lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, aboard the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

"This signifies that JPL's (NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory) deep space network has locked on to the spacecraft, which is on its journey to Mars", said NASA Launch Director Omar Baez, from the agency's Launch Services Program.

Bell said this project is paving the way for humans to one day experience Mars in a tactile way and possibly in person. Six other spacecraft are exploring the planet from orbit: three from the U.S., two from Europe and one from India.

Perseverance will also save some work for later-the rover is carrying 43 sample collection tubes, where it will gather robotic handfuls of Martian soil that NASA hopes to send back to Earth on a future mission. The 45-kilometer-wide crater was a possible oasis in its distant past, a place with high potential for finding signs of past microbial life, according to NASA.

Perseverance is based on the Curiosity rover that has been on Mars since August 2012, but with a number of modifications. It is also the largest and heaviest robotic Mars rover NASA has built.

The main objective of the mission is to search for evidence of life forms, which scientists believe existed more than three billion years ago when Mars was much warmer and was covered in rivers and lakes.

Perseverance has the capability to core into the surface of Mars and collect rock samples Mastcam-Z identifies. However, former astronaut Buzz Aldrin said he thought a slightly later target date of 2040 was more realistic. "For the first time in history, we're doing a Mars sample return mission". Even the tires on the rover are specifically created to roll over the red planet's surface, and those were developed right here in Northeast Ohio at the NASA Glenn Research Center. "I'm looking forward to, ideally, a very quiet and boring cruise to Mars, as we prepare for the never-boring and always stressful entry, descent and landing on the 18th of February!" The thin Martian atmosphere - 99% less dense than Earth's - poses a challenge to Ingenuity, which was created to be light, with rotor blades that are larger and spin more quickly than what would be needed for a helicopter of its mass on Earth.

In addition to searching for ancient signs of life, Perseverance will also help researchers explore options for future human exploration of Mars by testing autopilot functions and collecting data for future landing sites.

A momentary transonic condensation cloud can be seen around the payload fairing of the Mars 2020 Atlas V rocket following today's launch, caught just as the vehicle accelerated through and beyond the speed of sound.

The launch's momentum, combined with the boost from our planet's axial rotation, will carry the rover spacecraft and propel it more than 314 million miles to Mars.

Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

Every 26 months, Mars reaches the closest point to Earth in its orbit, and this summer is the latest launch window to the Red Planet, when launching a spacecraft uses the least amount of fuel.

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