NASA’s Perseverance Rover Expected To Land on Mars This Thursday
By: Paulo M
It is expected that on Thursday, February 18 2021 at 3 pm E.T, the NASA rover known as Perseverance will land on the surface of Mars. Perseverance is the most sophisticated and technologically advanced rover that NASA has ever developed. This is in part due to the constant improvement of technology but also for the purposes that the rover will carry out: to look for evidence of life on Mars.
It is almost common knowledge that at some point Mars was covered in ice sheets and potentially seas of water. Water in science is one of the key factors in contributing to the existence of life on planets, like on Earth for example, and we always assumed the possibility that life may have once existed on Mars, though be it not as complex s we humans are but rather microorganism or bacteria.
The rover will now attempt to find concrete evidence that will either support or deny this long-held belief. To do this, the rover will land specifically in the Jezero Crater, the site of an ancient lake that existed 3.9 billion years ago. In the crater, it will search and collect microfossils in the rocks and soils. D
ue to the delicacy of potential contamination to collected samples, Perseverance is also the cleanest object sent to Mars, in order to avoid contamination to the surrounding soil once it lands. The samples and all data compiled from the site and all other areas of interest will be returned to earth in 2030 for further analysis.
The collection of fossils is not the only purpose that Perseverance will serve. The rover will also, like others before it, study the climate of Mars and record it. The rover will also geological soil in different sites of the crater, as it will travel approximately 15 miles, dubbed an “epic journey” by NASA. The rover will travel this terrain at around 0.1 miles per hour, which is three times faster than any other rover.
Lastly, a fascinated addition to the arsenal tools of the Perseverance rover is a companion: Ingenuity. Ingenuity is a small robotic helicopter that will be sent alongside Perseverance in order to explore the service of Mars, making it the first of its kind to travel to other planets. On the red planet, Ingenuity will run 5 test flights, with Perseverance using its camera to record the experiment at a distance.
(A satellite image for a potential route of the rover on Mars)
If the landing of all necessary equipment and execution of the mission is successful, this NASA launch can potentially pave the way for other robotic machines to travel on future space exploration missions as well as answering one of humanities most intriguing questions. The potential findings and benefits from this mission seem to be boundless and one can only hope so.