With groundbreaking technology, the Mars 2020 mission launched July 30, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The Perseverance rover mission marks an ambitious initiative within the effort to gather Mars samples and return them to Earth.
“This landing is one among those pivotal moments for NASA, the us , and space exploration globally — once we know we are on the cusp of discovery and sharpening our pencils, so to talk , to rewrite the textbooks,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even within the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration. The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the longer term and can help us steel oneself against human exploration of the Mars .”
About the dimensions of a car, the 2,263-pound (1,026-kilogram) robotic geologist and astrobiologist will undergo several weeks of testing before it begins its two-year science investigation of Mars’ Jezero Crater.
While the rover will investigate the rock and sediment of Jezero’s ancient lakebed and river delta to characterize the region’s geology and past climate, a fundamental a part of its mission is astrobiology, including the look for signs of ancient microbial life.
There to end, the Mars Sample Return campaign, being planned by NASA and ESA (European Space Agency), will allow scientists on Earth to review samples collected by Perseverance to look for definitive signs of past life using instruments overlarge and sophisticated to send to the Mars .
“Because of today’s exciting events, the primary pristine samples from carefully documented locations on another planet are another step closer to being returned to Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for science at NASA. “Perseverance is that the initiative in bringing back rock and regolith from Mars. we do not know what these pristine samples from Mars will tell us. But what they might tell us is monumental — including that life may need once existed beyond Earth.”
Some 28 miles (45 kilometers) wide, Jezero Crater sits on the western fringe of Isidis Planitia, an enormous impact basin just north of the Martian equator. Scientists have determined that 3.5 billion years ago the crater had its own river delta and was crammed with water.
The power system that gives electricity and warmth for Perseverance through its exploration of Jezero Crater may be a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided it to NASA through an ongoing partnership to develop power systems for civil space applications.
Equipped with seven primary science instruments, the foremost cameras ever sent to Mars, and its exquisitely complex sample caching system — the primary of its kind sent into space — Perseverance will scour the Jezero region for fossilized remains of ancient microscopic Martian life, taking samples along the way.
“Perseverance is that the most sophisticated robotic geologist ever made, but verifying that microscopic life once existed carries a huge burden of proof,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division. “While we’ll learn tons with the good instruments we’ve aboard the rover, it’s going to alright require the much more capable laboratories and instruments back here on Earth to inform us whether our samples carry evidence that Mars once harbored life.”
Paving the Way for Human Missions
“Landing on Mars is usually an incredibly difficult task and that we are proud to continue building on our past success,” said JPL Director Michael Watkins. “But, while Perseverance advances that success, this rover is additionally blazing its own path and daring new challenges within the surface mission. We built the rover not just to land but to seek out and collect the simplest scientific samples for return to Earth, and its incredibly complex sampling system and autonomy not only enable that mission, they set the stage for future robotic and crewed missions.”
The Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) sensor suite collected data about Mars’ atmosphere during entry, and therefore the Terrain-Relative Navigation system autonomously guided the spacecraft during final descent. the info from both are expected to assist future human missions land on other worlds more safely and with larger payloads.
On the surface of Mars, Perseverance’s science instruments will have a chance to scientifically shine. Mastcam-Z may be a pair of zoomable science cameras on Perseverance’s remote sensing mast, or head, that makes high-resolution, color 3D panoramas of the Martian landscape.
Also located on the mast, the SuperCam uses a pulsed laser to review the chemistry of rocks and sediment and has its own microphone to assist scientists better understand the property of the rocks, including their hardness.
Located on a turret at the top of the rover’s robotic arm, the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL) and therefore the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC) instruments will work together to gather data on Mars’ geology close-up. PIXL will use an X-ray beam and suite of sensors to delve into a rock’s elemental chemistry.
SHERLOC’s ultraviolet laser and spectrometer, along side its Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and eNgineering (WATSON) imager, will study rock surfaces, mapping out the presence of certain minerals and organic molecules, which are the carbon-based building blocks of life on Earth.
The rover chassis is home to 3 science instruments, as well. The Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX) is that the first ground-penetrating radar on the surface of Mars and can be wont to determine how different layers of the Martian surface formed over time. the info could help pave the way for future sensors that search for subsurface water ice deposits.
Also with an eye fixed on future Mars explorations, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) technology demonstration will plan to manufacture oxygen out of nothingness — the Red Planet’s tenuous and mostly CO2 atmosphere.
The rover’s Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) instrument, which has sensors on the mast and chassis, will provide key information about present-day Mars weather, climate, and dust.
Currently attached to the belly of Perseverance, the diminutive Ingenuity Mars Helicopter may be a technology demonstration which will attempt the primary powered, controlled flight on another planet.
Project engineers and scientists will now put Perseverance through its paces, testing every instrument, subsystem, and subroutine over subsequent month or two. Only then will they deploy the helicopter to the surface for the flight test phase. If successful, Ingenuity could add an aerial dimension to exploration of the Mars during which such helicopters function a scouts or make deliveries for future astronauts faraway from their base.
Once Ingenuity’s test flights are complete, the rover’s look for evidence of ancient microbial life will begin in earnest.
“Perseverance is quite a rover, and quite this amazing collection of men and ladies that built it and got us here,” said John McNamee, project manager of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission at JPL. “It is even quite the ten .9 million people that signed up to be a part of our mission. This mission is about what humans are able to do once they persevere. We made it this far. Now, watch us go.”
More About the Mission
A primary objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology research, including the look for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate and be the primary mission to gather and cache Martian rock and regolith, paving the way for human exploration of the Mars .
Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA, will send spacecraft to Mars to gather these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is a component of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which incorporates Artemis missions to the Moon which will help steel oneself against human exploration of the Mars .
JPL, a division of Caltech in Pasadena, California, manages the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission and therefore the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter technology demonstration for NASA.