On July 30, 2020, the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying the next-generation Mars Exploration vehicles, the perseverance rover, and the ingenuity helicopter.
On February 18, 2021, the two vehicles landed safely on the Martian surface after completing their seven-month-long journey to the red planet. Perseverance’s speed decelerated from 20,000 kmph to being stationary on the planet’s surface in seven minutes.
Hence, NASA named it ‘Seven minutes of terror’. Only 40% of missions for Mars have been successful, and the efficient landing of perseverance rover on the Red Planet is a big victory for NASA.
Mission Name: Mars 2020
Rover Name: Perseverance
Purpose: Seek evidence of ancient microbial life and collect samples of rock and soil for a possible return to Earth
Launch Date: 30 July 2020
Landing Date: 18 February 2021
Landing Site: Jezero Crater, Mars
Mission Duration: About 687 Earth Days
Technologies Aboard The Perseverance Rover
- Range Trigger: For smaller and more accurate landing ellipse.
- Terrain-Relative Navigation: To take descent photos of the surface, compare to orbital map and divert if necessary.
- Advanced Aeroshell Sensor Package: Measures the temperature and pressure experienced by the vehicle.
- Scientific Instruments: a test of producing oxygen from Mars’ carbon-dioxide and a miniature helicopter.
The perseverance rover is the largest and heaviest rover NASA has ever sent to Mars, heavier than the Curiosity rover by 100 kilograms. With the extra weight, comes a whole host of new gadgets. Perseverance is benefiting from almost 10 years of advancement of technology. It has all the fascinating and novel technologies that will play a vital role in humankind’s steps on the Red Planet.
The perseverance road features a radioisotope thermoelectric generator that converts the heat from the natural decay of radioisotopes into electricity. It uses a simple principle called the Seebeck effect to generate electricity. The perseverance rover uses 4.8 kilograms of plutonium dioxide as its heat source. This radioactive substance primarily produces alpha waves that are essential for converting such radiation to heat in a compact space.
The rover possesses the determined amount of science to perform in its primary mission lasting one Martian year. Although it is being expected that the mission will be extended because of its landing site in the ancient Martian river delta within Jezero Crater.
Scientists have planned a timeline for Perseverance’s first 100 days on Mars. Notably, a day on Mars is almost 40 minutes longer than a day on Earth. The 100 Day Mission Plan
Day 1 To 10:
The first objective of Perseverance after landing is to fire some pyrotechnic devices, releasing the covers on cameras onboard the rover. Subsequently, it will click the pictures in front and behind the rover and send those back to the Earth. Later it will recharge the batteries for the next day.
In the upcoming days, it will verify its exact location on Mars, while the scientists will try to initiate the vehicle’s primary functions-power, thermal, and communications. Any disturbance in these functions may harm the vehicle very quickly. It will take Perseverance four to five days to complete these initial procedures.
The next five days would be used in changing the software of the rover. Thereafter, it will test its robotics arms, which will be used for collecting the samples of the surface of the planet.
Day 11 To 60:
The Perseverance consists of a small 0.5 meters tall stowaway named Ingenuity. This Ingenuity will attempt to fly in the skies of Mars. It will also take pictures of the surface of the planet.
Day 60 to 100:
The Perseverance will observe the surface and collect samples of the soil and rocks of the planet. It will also test Moxie, the oxygen generating device. The weather instrument and radar will search for the ice and water present underground.
NASA seems to be prepared for making life possible on Mars. With all the inventions going on, it is yet to be seen whether scientists discover ancient life on mars or not.