NASA Set to Launch Rover ‘Perseverance’ Marking a New Era in Mars Exploration

NASA's flagship Perseverance rover is set to launch on July 30, 2020.

NASA is set to launch its newest spacecraft dubbed ‘Perseverance’. The $2.7 billion Perseverance rover is an integral part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.

The flagship launch is to take place from Cape Canaveral scheduled on 30th July 2020 during a two-hour window at 7:50 a.m. EDT. The rover is expected to land on 18th February 2021. United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V will be the launching system for Perseverance, setting it at a relative velocity of 24,785 mph or 11 kilometres per second.

The rover is 3 meters long, weighs about 1025 kilograms and houses seven scientific payloads, a robotic arm, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, 25 cameras, and microphones to record sound. It is claimed that Perseverance is NASA’s most advanced robot for space exploration.

The Perseverance rover is NASA’s latest attempt to gain insights on the habitable conditions of the planet while examining any evidence which suggests the existence of ancient microbial life on the planet. This can be done as the rover will search for biosignatures left behind by microbes. Now, assuming everything goes according to the plan of action, Perseverance will gather rock samples for analysis in the laboratories on Earth.

Adam Steltzner, chief engineer on the Mars 2020 mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory stated:

The mission objectives of our effort are to explore the geology of our landing site, to look for signs of biosignatures from the past. [..] We are not a life-detection mission. We are looking for signs of past life on the surface of Mars. Also, signatures that Mars was habitable, and to the degree, that is still habitable, where it might be habitable. Our third objective is to prepare a returnable cache of samples, and then fourth is to prepare for future human exploration.

Perseverance will mark NASA’s ninth landing mission on Mars. Before this mission, 1970’s Viking Landers marked NASA’s attempt to examine the evidence of life on the planet. However, the robots only speculated the existence of life-form without any verifiable confirmation on that matter. Before Perseverance, NASA’s Curiosity launched in 2011 and found rock layers at the landing site on Mars. Curiosity has verified the existence of complex organic molecules, however, it was not confirmed whether this was a biological process or not.

It is important to note that Perseverance is not eligible enough to confirm life existence on the red planet. It is only the samples collected by the rover which might yield some fruitful results when brought to Earth for analysis.

This is a very important mission because the existence of ancient microbial life will open up infinite probabilities pertaining to life on another planet.

NASA’s Mars Exploration Program

The program is dedicated to conduct robotic exploration on the Red Planet to examine the possibility of life on Mars. NASA’s mission statement notes:

The goal of the Mars Exploration Program is to explore Mars and to provide a continuous flow of scientific information and discovery through a carefully selected series of robotic orbiters, landers and mobile laboratories interconnected by a high-bandwidth Mars/Earth communications network.

What does NASA stand for?

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

How long is the Mars 2020 mission?

Atleast one Mars year (687 Earth days)

Where can I watch the launch?

The launch will be available online.

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