With a targeted launch date of July 30, the next robotic scientist NASA is sending to the to the Red Planet has big ambitions.
Scheduled to launch this Thursday, on July 30, NASA’s
Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is the agency’s most sophisticated yet. As if
landing on the Red Planet and surviving on the surface weren’t challenging
enough, the car-sized vehicle carries with it instruments and technology that
will help pave the way for human exploration of Mars. But there’s much more to
the mission than dazzling engineering. There’s science.
NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is heading to the Red Planet to search for signs of ancient life, collect samples for future return to Earth and help pave the way for human exploration.
Along with characterizing the planet’s geology
and climate, Perseverance is on a quest to find signs of ancient microscopic
life. This new three-minute video from NASA lays out the science behind this
ambitious astrobiology mission, which lands on Feb. 18, 2021, in Jezero Crater. Home to
a lake billions of years ago, it isn’t your typical Mars crater. “This is
a wonderful place to live for microorganisms,” says Perseverance Project
Scientist Ken Farley of Caltech, speaking of the time when the lake was still
there. “And it is also a wonderful place for those microorganisms to be
preserved so that we can find them now so many billions of years later.”
Watch as Farley of Caltech and Deputy Project Scientist
Katie Stack-Morgan of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory talk about the tricky
task of gathering those rock and sediment samples, which will be the first collected
from another planet for eventual return to Earth, where they can undergo the
sort of scientific investigation that demands instruments too large and complex
to send to Mars.
About the Mission
division of Caltech in Pasadena, JPL manages the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover
mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. The mission is part of a
larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human
exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by
2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by
2028 through NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.
For more information about
the mission, go to:
For more about NASA’s Moon
to Mars plans, visit:
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Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory