NASA’s next Mars Rover touchdown is less than a month away.
Car’s size strongly rover, NASA’s $ 2.7 billion core Mars 2020 Mission, Will land on February 18, the beginning of a new era of red planet exploration.
On that fatal day, a rocket-propelled sky crane would lower the firmness on the floor 28 miles-wide (45 km) Jzero crater, Which hosted a lake and a river delta billions of years ago. During his mission, Perseverance will scour Jezero for signs of life on ancient Mars and collect dozens of samples.
In photos: NASA’s Mars persistence rover mission to red planet
If all goes according to plan, those samples will be seen by the earliest NASA-European Space Agency expedition on Earth by 2031 as humanity’s first Mars sample-return attempt.
Mars 2020 is also historical in other ways. NASA has not actively hunted for its signs Mars life Since the twin Viking missions, which launched in the mid-1970s. (Persistence precedent, still productive Curiosity rover, Assessing the previous habitat of Mars, but not equipped with the pursuit of life itself.) And traveling to the red planet for perseverance is a Small helicopter named Ingenuity, Which will try to become the first rotorcraft to fly over the world beyond Earth.
Persistence is also designed to pave the way for human excavation of Mars. For example, one of Rover’s devices, called MOXIE (abbreviated for “Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment”), would generate oxygen from a carbon dioxide-dominated Martian atmosphere – technology, which if enhanced, would allow our May help the species gain a foothold. Red Planet, NASA officials have said. (ISRU is, in turn, “a fancy word for in situ resource use, to live off the land”).
There is a lot to look forward to once it hits the red dirt firmly. And NASA Rover is not the only spacecraft set to arrive on Mars next month. The United Arab Emirates’ first Red Planet mission, an orbiter named Hope, will arrive on Mars on 9 February if all goes according to plan. That milestone will be followed a day later Arrival of Tianwen-1, China’s first fully red planet effort homeground.
Tianwen-1 has a pair of orbiters and a lander-rover. Chinese space officials said the orbiter would be imaging a designated landing site for several months to prepare for the touchdown, which is expected in May.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book about the discovery of alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.