This promising mission is NASA’s ninth attempt to conquer the unknown lands of the Red Planet, and the first, with a 50-years break from study, since the Viking landers nuclear-powered robot searched for evidence of life on the Martian soil.
When and where?
NASA’s Perseverance rover is scheduled to leave the Earth in search of ancient life on Mars today. The $2.7 billion mission was specially designed to drill core samples from the Martian soil for an eventual return to our planet. The famous Perseverance rover will depart from Cape Canaveral.
The centerpiece of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission is scheduled to be launched at 7:50 with a two-hour window opening. The aircraft will be fired away from our planet with a relative velocity of 24,785 mph, using an Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.
The landing on Mars
The designated landing date of the Mars 2020 mission is the 18th of February 2020. The launch of Perseverance is crucial since the Earth and Mars are currently positioned at the right spots in our solar system. The ongoing pandemic has affected the standard studies for the Mars 2020 mission, but fortunately, the crew members managed to carry on with their preparations. An eventual delay would have implied enormous costs until the planets are again appropriately aligned.
The most advanced robotic explorer
The company has spent over a decade preparing for this enormous step forward a better understanding of the formation and evolution of Mars. The Mars 2020 mission is more than just a robot, having 25 cameras, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a robotic arm, and the first microphones to record sound on the Martian land.
The goal of Mars 2020
The primary objective of the mission is to analyze soil samples, which will be collected by the Perseverance rover and then brought back on Earth for future tests. In addition to this, the aircraft will also look for any evidence of the past existence of microbial life on Mars, should they have exited at all.
Matt Wallace, the deputy project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has declared that it is the first time in history for a space agency to search for signs of life on other planets, planning on returning samples of soil for further research on Earth.
Additionally, Adam Steltzner, chief engineer of the mission, has stated that this mission was specially designed to determine signs of ancient life on the surface of the Red Planet and whether certain areas will be habitable in the distant future or not.
The final result of Mars 2020 is a future human exploration on Mars.
The steps of the Mars 2020 mission
Mars 2020 is a mission powered by NASA in partnership with the European Space Agency, both aiming to bring back on Earth dozens of soil and rocks for future authorized experiments. Hoping that the mission goes precisely as planned, the two agencies are discussing about launching additional missions to the Martian land by the end of 2026.
These missions were specially created to deliver the materials extracted by shooting them from Mars into the outer space. Another spacecraft will then link up the samples in orbit around the Red Planet and head towards the Earth, being scheduled to reach our soil by the end of 2031.
The last step of the mission scheduled to take more than a decade is for scientists to analyze the regolith in search of any form of ancient life.
The Curiosity rover versus the Perseverance rover
Curiosity landed on the Martian land eight years ago, being the most advanced rover ever sent to Mars. It is still operating today, currently climbing the Mount Sharp, looking for different rocks to analyze in its miniaturized laboratory.
According to Wallace, the Perseverance rover is two times bigger than Curiosity, being by far the most sophisticated robot designed by humanity. The Curiosity rover served as an opportunity to learn, therefore, many components of Perseverance were adapted to the Martian environment, as seen in what damage Curiosity has faced throughout the years.
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