The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is preparing its Mars rover, Perseverance, for its launch this Thursday, July 30, for its $2.4 billion mission to the Red Planet where it will seek to find ancient life.
According to Reuters, the six-wheeled robot is also tasked with deploying a mini helicopter weighing four pounds (1.8 kilograms) called Ingenuity that will help test powered flight in Martian skies as well as for exploration.
This will be the first time a man-made aircraft will fly in a new world.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an interview that he can imagine a future wherein NASA would be able to send a robot on the planet that could deploy dozens of different helicopters that can help scientists on Earth explore it.
The mission, which is the agency’s ninth trek to Mars, is set to launch at 7:50 a.m. EST (1150 GMT) from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The car-sized Mars rover will be launching from the Boeing Lockhead (BA.N) (LMT.N) atop the Atlas 5 rocket, which is a joint venture with the United Launch Alliance.
Read Also: Scientists Bring 100-Million-Year-Old Microbes Back to Life Boosting Hopes in Reviving Mars’ Dormant Organisms
Perseverance is expected to reach Mars in February 2021, with people behind the robot planning its landing on a Martian crater called Jezero that is 820 feet deep that scientists believe is a former lake from 3.5 billion years ago.
Experts believe this area holds potential traces of microbial Martian life.
“This is unlike any robot that we’ve sent to Mars before because it has the purpose of astrobiology,” Bridenstine said in an interview with the news outlet. “We are trying to find evidence of ancient life on another world.”
In order to find ancient Martian life, Perseverance will be collecting rock samples from the surface of the red planet, according to NASA Planetary Science Division director, Lori Glaze, in an interview with Al Jazeera.
The robot will then enclose them in cigar-shaped capsules and then leave them scattered on the planet where a “fetch” rover will be retrieving them in the future.
Nevertheless, the said rover is still being conceptualized by scientists over at NASA.
The fetch rover will then launch the capsules back into space where they would link to a spacecraft that will come home around 2031, a decade after Perseverance officially began its search on Mars.
“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,” the NASA official further said.
Besides Perseverance, the US space agency has also sent out Sojourner in 1997, which is the first Mars rover.
Spirit and Opportunity came next, helping scientists map out the Martian landscape and enabled them to discover past water formations.
NASA has also sent out three landers, namely, Pathfinder, InSight, and Phoenix.
Anyone who wants to witness the launch of Mars rover Perseverance can do so via a live stream from NASA’s official website for the mission.
Read Also: NASA Confirm ‘Rare’ Asteroid Discovery of Students Warning About Near-Earth Object Passing in the Future
This article is owned by TechTimes.
Written by: Nhx Tingson