NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance will lift off today (July 30). The rover will soon start its mission and quest for signs of ancient life microbial life. It will also fly the first helicopter-drone on another planet.
The launch is scheduled for Thursday (July 30) at 7:50 AM (11:50 GMT) from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Perseverance will be onboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Here is what you need to know.
Rover Perseverance Begins Daring Mission: Significant Details and Other Tasks Unveiled
NASA’s rover Perseverance is an improved variant of Curiosity, faster, with six durable wheels that can autonomously navigate up to 200 meters/day. The rover reaches the size of a small SUV, weighing no more than a metric ton, carrying 19 cameras and two microphones (the first sounds on Mars could be recorded). It also has a two-meter-long robotic arm, being powered by a small yet steady nuclear generator.
Once Perseverance will reach Mars’ surface, NASA will deploy the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter – the first aircraft that’ll ever fly on another planet – that has only 1.8 kilograms. The purpose is to revolutionize planetary investigation since other rovers can only reach a few dozen kilometers in their whole lifespans. They’re also vulnerable to dunes and other impediments higher than 40 centimeters.
Perseverance’s mission is to hunt the planet for proof of ancient life forms, drill and collect around 30 intact rock cores, and put them in test tubes. A future joint US-European mission will later collect them.
Primitive Life Yet to Be Discovered
NASA has picked the Jezero crater as its landing spot for Perseverance. The area is a massive impact basin just north of the Mars’ equator.
“What we are looking for is likely very primitive life, we are not looking for advanced life forms that might be things like bones or fern fossils,” detailed Ken Farley, a project scientist.
Between three and four billion years ago, a river flowed in the Jezero crater into a large body of water. Scientists think that the ancient river delta could have gathered and preserved organic molecules and other possible microbial life signs.
Perseverance is set to last approximately two years, but it could last much longer, given the resistance shown by previous rovers.