NASA Will Search for Life on Mars With Perseverance Rover

NASA is targeting a July 30 launch for its Perserverance Mars mission. The Mars rover Perseverance was stacked atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket on July 7.

The Mars Perseverance rover will drill and collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a “cache” on the surface of Mars. The mission will advance technology to address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars. These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources (such as subsurface water), improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.

Perseverance will land in the 45-kilometre-wide Jezero Crater, just north of the Martian equator and in a spot that was once home to a lake and a river delta.

The rover will use a 2.1-metre-long robotic arm and drill a sample about the size of a penlight: 60 millimetres long and 13 millimetres across. The sample goes into a tube and is sealed. Eventually, once Perseverance has filled at least 20 of its tubes, it will cache them on the surface of Mars until some future, yet-to-be-funded robot arrives to retrieve them. NASA currently plans to work with the European Space Agency (ESA) to launch a mission in 2026 that would return the rocks to Earth in 2031.

Written By Brian Wang,