Perseverance Rover’s Mission So Far: What Should You Know About RIMFAX

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will reach the Red Planet’s ground next year, on February 18. The rover will hunt for any signs of past microbial life at the Jezero Crater. But the six-wheeled robot will do more than that.

The Perseverance rover will try peering down below the surface of Mars using a ground-penetrating radar dubbed RIMFAX. The instrument will offer much higher-resolution data than any space-borne radars can do. Here is what you need to know.

RIMFAX’s Mission Detailed

The Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment, also known as RIMFAX, is a device that can offer an advanced view of subsurface structures down to approximately 10 meters underground. 

RIMFAX could reveal many hidden layers of geology. Most significantly, it can help find proof of past environments on the Red Planet. 

Svein-Erik Hamran, RIMFAX’s principal investigator, said: “We can do a 3D model of the subsurface – of the different layers – and determine the geological structures underneath.”

Even if Mars is described as a frigid desert, scientists believe that microbes might have been present in the Jezero Crater during wetter periods, billions of years ago. They also think that proof of such ancient life might be preserved in the crater’s sediments. 

RIMFAX will help show areas for more in-depth research by instruments on the Perseverance rover that search for mineral, textural, and chemical evidence. 

If They Could Turn Back Time

According to scientists, the Jezero Crater is the result of a space object collision with Mars. And more than 3 billion years ago, some river channels ended up in the crater, forming a lake that was home to a river delta.

NASA hopes the Perseverance rover will shed light on how that delta emerged. The scientists will develop a 2D subsurface image of the crater floor using the rover’s data. 

Eventually, the data will be combined with pictures from a shooter on the rover to create a 3D topographical photo. The results should help scientists figure out more about Mars’ surface and “travel: back in time.

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