There has been growing interest regarding space travel ever since the successful launch of SpaceX. With a new NASA moon mission already being planned for 2024, enthusiasts are thrilled to learn about the latest technology that will make it happen. Before that happens, the agency is set to send more high-tech equipment to study the Red Planet. Aboard an Atlas V-541 rocket is the Perseverance rover which is the third of its kind to make the interplanetary journey from Earth to Mars.
Both the InSight and Curiosity rovers previously made their trip using the same rocket platform which is scheduled to blast off this week. The Mars 2020 spacecraft will be doing so from Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The launch window will start on Thursday and continue till Aug. 15, and is expected to land on Feb. 18, 2021, at the Jezero Crater, Mars. As for the projected duration of the mission, it would last about 687 Earth days (one Mars year).
“The Perseverance rover will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for possible return to Earth,” NASA said. In addition to the host of scientific instruments carried by the vehicle, it will carry what the agency calls “witness tubes.” These will be used to verify if there were contaminants present when the rover drills and collects samples of rock and soil from the planet’s surface.
Another fascinating aspect of the mission is the helicopter technology demonstration called the Ingenuity, which hopes to be the first unmanned craft to take flight on the Red Planet. Although it resembles the Curiosity rover, the almost $3 billion Perseverance rover boasts a collection of upgrades over its predecessor.
NASA confirms that the new rover will also contain a special plaque as a tribute to medical workers that have bravely faced the pandemic. Aside from the launch of the Perseverance, there are other spacecrafts headed for Mars this week. China’s Quest for Heavenly Truth and UAE’s Hope are two orbiters that have gone ahead on their respective missions. Taking advantage of the ideal planetary positions, Roscosmos of Russia and the European Space Agency likewise have their own launches scheduled as well.