NASA launched its Mars 2020 Rover called Perseverance today, July 30, 2020. The Mars mission was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Perseverance is set to have a journey of around 7 months on Mars before landing in the ancient lakebed of Jezero Crater.
Interestingly, the 2020 Mars Rover is also carrying three dime-size chips featuring around 10.9 million names of individuals from across the globe who had submitted entries to travel aboard the rover.
During its time on the Red planet, the Mars 2020 Rover will be gathering samples of soil and rock from the planet. The mission hopes to explore astrobiological evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars. Furthermore, it also intends to better characterize the climate and geology of Mars for exploration of the planet by humans in the future.
Ahead of the significant Mars 2020 Mission, NASA had also invited people from across the globe to witness the launch of Perseverance on Thursday. Given the current health guidelines for social distancing, viewers were advised to join the launch virtually from their homes under its #CountdownToMars campaign on social media. Netizens also joined in large numbers to watch the live streaming of the NASA Mars 2020 Rover
NASA’s Many Mars Rovers In The Past Years
The leading space organisation had launched the first ever Mars rover, Sojourner in 1997. The rover was launched as a part of the agency’s Mars Pathfinder Mission. Many were initially sceptical of the mission but it went on to be a humongous success. The Pathfinder paved new ways for exploration of the Red Planet. In the subsequent years, NASA further sent twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity in 2003 and Curiosity in 2012 to Mars.
The technologies associated with the Mars rovers have evolved many folds ever since the 1997 launch. While the Sojourner could last only for 83 days, Curiosity rover launched in 2012 continues to be operational till date. The Mars rovers provide a unique opportunity to study the local atmosphere and geographies of the planet in higher resolutions than from the orbiting spacecrafts.
Underlining the significance of rover, Indian Express report elaborates, “In addition, rovers have a suite of instruments from drills to spectrometers to microscopic imagers: these instruments help understand the local geology much like a field geologist would study rocks on Earth. In addition, starting with Spirit and Opportunity, rovers have acted as mobile weather stations on Mars that monitor changes in the Martian atmosphere continuously over multiple years.”
Notably, Perseverance is the fourth generation of Mars rovers. The 2020 rover is carrying an instrument called MOXIE (Mars Oxygen ISRU(In Situ Resource Utilization) Experiment). The instrument utilises carbon dioxide from the carbon-dioxide-rich atmosphere to manufacture molecular oxygen.
Through its ISRU technologies, NASA intends to find ways to use local resources of the planet to meet human needs and requirements of the astronaut carrying spacecraft. Furthermore, the rover will also be carrying the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.
Notably, the special helicopter will be the first ever attempt of any space agency to fly an aircraft to another planet/satellite. If successful, the accompanying helicopter will help the rover in planning its drive better. Moreover, it would also be helpful in taking samples from places the rover cannot drive into.
The journey of Perseverance rover would be definitely an interesting watch for astronomers and space enthusiasts around the world.