Friday, September 18, 2020

NASA’s Perseverance rover ready for liftoff to Red Planet

This concept depicts NASA

NASA will launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on July 30 at 7:50 am EDT (5:20 IST) on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Loaded with scientific instruments and other new systems, the Perseverance rover is the largest, heaviest, most sophisticated vehicle NASA has ever sent to the Red Planet.

“We will get closer than ever before to answering some of science’s longest-standing questions about the Red Planet, including whether life ever arose there,” said Lori Glaze, planetary science director at NASA Headquarters.

NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover will also carry the first samples of spacesuit material ever sent to the Red Planet.

Role of the Perseverance rover

Perseverance aims to answer one of the key questions of astrobiology: Are there any signs that life once existed on Mars?

The rover has to work on its science goals: searching for signs of ancient microbial life, characterizing the planet’s geology and climate, collecting rock and sediment samples for a future return to Earth, and paving the way for human exploration beyond the Moon.

“Building this incredibly sophisticated rover has been the hardest thing I’ve ever been a part of as an engineer,” said Ray Baker, the mission’s flight system manager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Landing location of Mars Perseverance rover

The rover will land on Jezero Crater, which is 45 kilometers wide and sits on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant basin north of the Martian equator.

Features of Perseverance rover

Perseverance has features that will help astronauts once they’re on the surface of another world: improved self-driving smarts for more efficient travel and the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) instrument suite, which will provide key information about weather, climate, and dust.

Meanwhile, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) technology demonstration aims to produce oxygen from Mars’ carbon dioxide atmosphere, demonstrating a way future explorers might produce oxygen for rocket propellant as well as for breathing.

The Perseverance rover and other parts of the Mars 2020 spacecraft feature 23 cameras – more cameras than any interplanetary mission in history.

They’ll help engineers put together a high-definition view of the landing process after the rover safely touches down on Mars on February 18, 2021, and they’ll deliver images of the landscape and scientific specimens in breathtaking detail.

Perseverance also carries three silicon chips with the names of nearly 11 million people who signed up to ride with the mission.

Key facts about NASA’s Mars 2020 rover

Mission name: Mars 2020

Rover name: Perseverance

Landing: February 18, 2021

Mission duration: One Mars year (687 Earth days)

Main job: The Perseverance rover will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth.

Launch vehicle: Atlas V-541

Launch location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida

Landing site: Jezero crater, Mars

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