NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover left Earth on July 30th of 2020. It has been speeding towards Mars ever since. On February 18, 2021 it will land and we we will have yet another rover on mars. Perseverance is the biggest, heaviest, cleanest, and most sophisticated rover to visit Mars yet. It will be landing in Jezero Crater to search for signs of ancient life and collect samples that will ultimately be returned to earth.
NASA has gotten pretty good at landing rovers on Mars and the hope as always will be that Perseverance touches down safely. Sojourner (Pathfinder), Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity are the 4 previous rovers that touched down on Mars and brought us all the exciting science we’ve seen over the years. This time the focus will be on finding signs of past life. Jezero crater is a large basin that features a river delta and lake. The rock and regolith the rover collects could help answer some questions about the existence of life beyond earth. Additionally Perseverance will be testing a new system where physical samples could possibly be returned to Earth on a future mission.
Perseverance will have the technical tools needed to search for fossilized life, as well as a whole suite of scientific instruments to study the geology and astrobiology. Additionally a device to create oxygen from the existing Mars atmosphere will also be studied in preparation for future visits. This would be a boon to future science as astronauts will need the oxygen to breathe. Oxygen is also a component of fuel, another commodity that will be needed to return our intrepid astronauts to Earth once their work on the planet is complete. I realize that’s getting a little ahead of ourselves as that is planned for some time in the future but one of the beauties of Perseverance’s mission is the technology that will make way for future study and exploration of Mars.
Perseverance contains in her underbelly the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. This is another new science instrument being sent to Mars. This will be the first experimental testing and if things go well 4-5 flights are planned. This will add a new dimension to Mars exploration and relate science to items that can’t be accomplished by a rover on the ground. It will also collect data that can be used in the next generation of exploration helicopters sent to Mars and other planets.
Here’s what NASA has to say:
“A key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith.”
Well I for one find it exciting there’s going to be another rover on Mars. Man’s ongoing search for extraterrestrial life is officially a real thing. The previous rovers made the news often and produced so much interesting science. Plus all the conspiracy theorists will get a new subject to talk about and pictures to find more stuff to point out. I look forward to so much more. Safe voyage Perseverance.