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Launch is approaching for the next NASA rover on Mars, Perseverance

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is just over a month from its July 20 launch date. The rover’s astrobiology mission will search for signs of microscopic life spent on Mars, explore the geology of the Jezero crater landing site, and present key technologies to help prepare for future robotic and human exploration. And the rover will do all this by collecting the first samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) for the return to Earth by a set of future missions.

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“Fifty-one years ago today, NASA was deeply involved in the final preparations for the first moon landing,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. “Today, we are on the threshold of another monumental moment of exploration: the collection of samples on Mars. As we celebrate the heroes of Apollo 11 today, future generations may well recognize the women and men of persistence – not only for what they achieve 100 million miles from home, but for what they were able to accomplish on this world on the launch road. “

The Mars 2020 mission should take off this summer since the agency announced the project in December 2012. Due to the relative positions of Earth and Mars, launch opportunities only arise every 26 months. If Perseverance did not head to Mars this summer, the project would have to wait until September 2022 to try again, which would seriously affect the long-term goals of NASA’s Mars exploration program and increase the overall mission risk.

Significant challenges accompany the territory when planning a mission to Mars. In the case of Perseverance – the heaviest payload that has yet to be sent to the Red Planet – these included the implementation of a comprehensive test project to confirm the strength of their parachute design. Considerable efforts have also been made to fine-tune the performance of the rover’s caching system, the most complex and cleanest mechanism ever sent into space. But of all the obstacles faced by men and women in persistence, the coronavirus pandemic has posed the greatest challenge, with safety precautions requiring a lot of work to be done remotely.

“The team never hesitated in their quest for the launch pad,” said Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “It is thanks to their dedication and the help of other NASA facilities that we have succeeded so far.”

NASA leadership and JPL scientists and engineers presented the next Mars 2020 mission at a press conference on Wednesday June 17 (90 minutes).

Persevering

In the midst of the extra effort of staying on schedule while incorporating extra precautions – and keeping friends, families and colleagues safe – the March 2020 mission team was acutely aware of the dedication and hard work of members of the medical community around the world during the pandemic. With them in mind, the mission installed a plaque on the left side of the rover chassis, between the center and rear wheels. The graphic on the 3 inch by 5 inch aluminum plate (8 inches by 13 centimeters) represents the Earth, supported by the medical community, represented by the ancient symbol of the serpent-shaped rod. A line representing the trajectory of a spacecraft rises from central Florida to Mars,

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“We wanted to show our appreciation to those who put their personal well-being at stake for the good of others,” said Matt Wallace, JPL Perseverance assistant project manager. “We hope that when future generations go to Mars and arrive on our rover, we will remind them that back on Earth in 2020, there were such people.”

All the main components of the spacecraft of the rover mission (from the aerodynamic hull and the descent to the cruise and the rover) are now in the configuration in which they will be found on the launch pad of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Later this week, they will be locked in the payload shroud that will protect them during launch. Next week, the fairing and spacecraft will be transported to Space Launch Complex 41, where they will be attached to the top of an Atlas V rocket from the United Launch Alliance.

“The mission has a launch, 314 million miles of interplanetary space and seven minutes of terror to safely reach the surface of Mars,” said Lori Glaze, director of the Division of Planetary Sciences at NASA. “When we see the landscape of Jezero crater for the first time and we really start to realize the scientific generosity that awaits us, the fun really begins.”

Recognizing the impact of COVID-19 on the nation and the world, the Mars 2020 team created the COVID-19 perseverance plate, which will mount on Mars mounted on the side of the rover. The plaque pays special tribute to healthcare workers.

Recognizing the impact of COVID-19 on the nation and the world, the Mars 2020 team created the COVID-19 perseverance plate, which will mount on Mars mounted on the side of the rover. The plaque pays special tribute to healthcare workers.

About the mission

The Perseverance rover’s astrobiology mission will look for signs of ancient microbial life. It will also characterize the climate and geology of the planet, pave the way for human exploration of the red planet and will be the first planetary mission to collect and cache carrots of Martian rocks and dust samples. Subsequent missions, currently being studied by NASA (in collaboration with the European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and send them back to Earth for further analysis.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a means of preparing for human exploration of the Red Planet. Responsible for returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 using NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.

No matter what day persistence takes off during its launch period from July 20 to August 11, it will land in the Jezero crater in March February 18, 2021. Targeting the landing for a specific date and time helps mission planners to better understand the lighting and temperature at the landing site, as well as the location of satellites in orbit around Mars responsible for recording and relaying spacecraft data during its descent and landing.


NASA’s Perseverance Rover spacecraft set to launch configuration


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