The Mars Perseverance Rover mission is on its way to the Red Planet, carrying the Ingenuity helicopter set to make its first flight 50 to 90 Mars days after its landing, scheduled for February 18, 2021.
It's the first step in an ambitious project to bring the first Martian rock samples back to Earth to be analyzed for evidence of ancient life. The duration of the mission is at least one Mars year, which is about 687 Earth days. "But certainly we welcome more explorers to deliver more science than ever before", he said following a launch review Monday, "and we look forward to seeing what it is that they're able to discover". It will be the 2030s at best, according to NASA, before astronauts venture to Mars. However, if due to some unfortunate turn of events, the United States rover fails to launch, it will have to wait for another 26 months until Earth and Mars orbits come this close. "We have started our cruise phase, and for the next seven months, we'll make sure the rover is healthy and happy, and we'll tweak its trajectory to make sure it's on the right path to Mars".
The spacecraft Perseverance - set for liftoff today - is NASA's brawniest and brainiest Martian rover yet.
"We know that we're going to make discoveries with the Mars Perseverance rover that are going to make us ask a whole lot more questions, just like every previous discovery", Bridenstine told Reuters. Even the tires on the rover are specifically created to roll over the red planet's surface, and those were developed right here in Northeast Ohio at the NASA Glenn Research Center. It will take Perseverance will close to seven months to reach Jezero, a one-time lake, and a crater close to 30 miles wide. When the rover reaches a suitable location it will drop the tubes onto the surface of Mars to be collected by a future retrieval mission, which is now under development.
Perseverance has more self-driving capability, too, so it can cover more ground than Curiosity.
The Mars 2020 mission launch occurs after almost a decade of hard work and planning by thousands of engineers, scientists and specialists at NASA centers across the country and their commercial partners. It will also study the planet's geology and climate. This includes a device that will attempt to produce oxygen from the carbon dioxide atmosphere of Mars.
Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.
Also, aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter called Ingenuity that is due to test powered flight on Mars for the first time.
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