NASA was proud to announce that the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover launched successfully from Cape Canaveral today. If the mission continues on schedule, Perseverance should land in Jezero Crater on the Red Planet on Feb.
The Perseverance rover will search for signs of past microbial life and help scientists better understand the geology and climate of the Red Planet. Jezero Crater is believed to be a former lakebed.
“The Perseverance rover, built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, is loaded with scientific
instruments, advanced computational capabilities for landing and other new systems. With a chassis about 10 feet (3
meters) long, Perseverance is also the largest, heaviest robotic Mars rover NASA has built. What drives its ambitious
mission and what will it do at the Red Planet?”
The original Space Race between the USA and the USSR was a sprint, but in the 21st century space exploration needs to be a marathon, not a sprint.
“Getting the spacecraft to the launch pad this summer has required an extended effort. Concept studies and early technology work started a decade ago — years before the project was formally announced in December 2012. Landing on another planet, searching for signs of ancient life, collecting samples and proving new technologies will also be tough. These challenges epitomize why NASA chose the name Perseverance from among the 28,000 essays submitted during the “Name the Rover” contest. The months leading up to the launch in particular have required creative problem solving and teamwork during the coronavirus pandemic.
As Alex Mather of Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia, wrote in his winning essay, “We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up.”
As far as Terran scientists know, Mars is the only planet in our solar system inhabited solely by robots.
Mars rovers have gotten bigger and more sophisticated over the years. Sojourner, in 1997, proved a robot could move on Mars. Sojourner was approximately the size of a microwave oven. Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on the surface of Mars in 2004, were roughly the size of golf carts. Curiosity, which landed in 2012, was roughly the size of a car.
“Engineers have also given Perseverance more self-driving smarts than any other rover, allowing it to cover
more ground in a day’s operations without having to wait for engineers on Earth to send up instructions.” This will permit more efficient exploration of Mars, the Moon, and eventually other planets or asteroids.
Perseverance rover will carry seven primary instruments:
An advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom. The instrument also help scientists to assess the mineralogy of the Martian surface and assist with rover operations.Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA)
A set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity and dust size and shape.Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE)
An exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide.Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL)
An X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. PIXL will provide capabilities that permit more detailed detection and analysis of chemical elements than ever before.Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX)
A ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC) (We love that name,)
A spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic compounds. SHERLOC will be the first UV Raman spectrometer to fly to the surface of Mars and will provide complementary measurements with other instruments in the payload.SuperCam
An instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance. This instrument also has a significant contribution from the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales,Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (CNES/IRAP) France.
Parents who are homsechooling their children during the Covid Lockdown might want to use NASA,gov resources to help with science lessons.
Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as 26 short stories, mostly fantasy in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, Swords &Sorceries Vols. 1, 2, & 5, “Cat Tails” “Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions, Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.