In Focus: NASA’s Mars Mission with Perseverance rover

Part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach:

  • The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of America’s larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.
  • NASA is planning to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024.
  • Thereafter, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis program.

In Focus: NASA’s Mars Mission with Perseverance rover

  • By February 2021, the Perseverance rover is expected on land on Mars in Jezero Crater.
  • The 2,260-pound, 10-feet long rover is the biggest and heaviest robotic Mars rover NASA has ever built.

Mission:

  • The Perseverance rover’s astrobiology mission is to:
    • Explore the diverse geology of its landing site, Jezero Crater  
    • Seek out signs of past microscopic life on Mars
      • Jezero Crater is the perfect place to search for signs of ancient life.

    • Demonstrate key technologies that will help us prepare for future robotic and human exploration.

HelicopterIngenuity:

  • Perseverance is also carrying a small helicopter named Ingenuity.
  • If successful, Ingenuity will be the first aircraft to fly in a controlled way on another planet.
  • A technology demonstrator, Ingenuity’s goal is a pure flight test – it carries no science instruments.
  • Over 30 sols (31 Earth days), the helicopter will attempt up to five powered, controlled flights.
  • The data acquired during these flight tests will help the next generation of Mars helicopters provide an aerial dimension to Mars explorations – potentially scouting for rovers and human crews, transporting small payloads, or investigating difficult-to-reach destinations.

MOXIE instrument to make Oxygen:

  • The MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) instrument will attempt to demonstrate a technology that converts carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere into oxygen.
  • It could lead to future versions of MOXIE technology that become staples on Mars missions, generating oxygen that could be used by astronauts as rocket propellant and for breathing.
  • The ability to do so will be a critical consideration in planning human landings and bases on Mars.

Other Mars rovers of NASA:

  • Perseverance is NASA’s 5th rover to Mars.
  • The previous rovers were named Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity.
    • Sojourner finished its mission in 1997.  
    • Spirit was active from 2004 to 2010.
    • Opportunity’s mission was declared complete in February 2019 after 15 years of work when NASA lost contact with the vehicle.
      • Note: Spirit and Opportunity were launched on the same NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission launched in 2003 and landed on Mars in 2004.

    • Curiosity continues to explore the planet. 

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