NASA’s nuclear-powered joint launch Atlas 5 rocketThursday roasted life and lifted from Cape Canaveral, the first step in a decade-long program to search for signs of past microbe life and collect rock and soil samples for the final return to Earth.
It will take a rover of $ 2.4 billion in seven months to reach Mars. When it arrives in February, it will descend to the bottom of a 28-mile-wide crater near the remnants of an ancient river delta and lake deposits, where traces of past biological activity may be preserved.
With European Rover collecting samples to be recovered later, the firmness will stopWho would be able to hover above the surface for the first “moment of the Wright brothers” on Mars. It would test whether astronauts could one day use the ground to extract oxygen from the thin carbon dioxide atmosphere.
Perseverance is the third Mars probe launched in the last two weeks by a spacecraftAnd . It is also the most ambitious, building on the success of eight first Mars landings.
It is the first NASA mission explicitly designed to search for signs of life on another world.
“We are doing transformational science,” said Matt Wallace, deputy project manager at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “For the first time, we are looking for signs of life on another planet. And for the first time, we are going to collect samples that we will be part of, we hope, the first sample from another planet will come back. Has many other firsts. “
After months of due diligence and testing amid restrictions on the work of the coronovirus, the long-awaited mission is finally underway at 7:50 am EDT when the Atlas 5’s Russian-built RD-180 first stage engine and four solid-propellant strap -Up booster ignited, generating a combined 2.3 million pounds of thrust.
The 197-foot-high rocket and its payload strapped the scales at around 1.2 million pounds, and the additional lifting power resulted in a rapid climb away from launch complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
In just 35 seconds, the Atlas 5 sounded and was traveling fast four minutes later, when the RD-180 took off and the first stage fell away, the vehicle more than 300 miles from the launch site, about 100 miles up and moving. Was. At more than 13,400 mph.
At the time, the second stage of the powerful hydrogen-fueled Centaur continued to climb into space with an Aerojet Rocketdine RL10C-1 engine. Earth escape velocity of approximately 26,000 mph required two centaur firings to boost its firmness and its planetary cruise platform.
Centaur’s flight computer was programmed to drop the rover and cruise stage on a precise trajectory toward a point in space 292 million miles away where Mars would be next February.
The Rover’s descendants on the surface, known as the “Seven Minute Terror”, will begin when it sinks into a martyred atmosphere at altitudes of more than 12,000 mph, from its rocket-powered “sky crane” The first temperature is up to 2,370 degrees. The jet pack lowers it to the surface at the end of a teether.
The targeted landing site, Jezero Crater, features an ancient river channel cutting through a rim and a clearly visible delta across the pit floor. A river that once flowed 3 to 4 billion years ago, a basin filled the size of Lake Tahoe.
Project scientist Ken Farley said, “A delta is where you get a very fine granular (material), basically a soil depiction.” “So the mud comes in, takes away the river, it hits the lukewarm water of the lake and the mud gets out.
“The beauty of this is that whatever is carried down the river can be alive, or the things that used to be in the lake will be buried in this (favorable) environment. … So we know that We have a habitable environment with high conservation potential. “
Perseverance, named by a Virginia seventh grader after a nationwide competition, is equipped with a complex sample collection and packaging system. As the mission progressed, a drill core at the end of the robot arm would collect samples that would be sealed in small, ultra-clean tubes and deposited at precise locations.
The European Space Agency calls for a long-range plan for NASA’s lander to be delivered to the rover to bring the samples. The rover will return to the lander, loading samples into a NASA-supplied rocket that will launch a sample container into Mars orbit. A European spacecraft would then capture the container and bring it back to Earth in 2031.
“If it sounds complicated, it is,” said Lori Glaze, director of planetary science at NASA headquarters. “But NASA’s investment in developing autonomous robots and landing large payloads on Mars has laid the foundation for a successful sampling expedition.”