Launch of  Perseverance Rover on July 30, 2020

Source:  NASA Artist Rendering

Nuclear Powered Robotic Rover

NASA is going back to Mars on Thursday, July 30, 2020.  The Mars 2020 Perseverance Mission includes the rover Perseverance, a $2.7 billion piece of highly advanced robotic technology.  The rover, along with a small helicopter and instruments that it's carrying, will launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, FL.

7 Months Long Journey to Mars

The trip to the Red Planet will take 7 months.  And then the rover will make a dramatic sky-crane landing onto Mars' Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. For two years, the nuclear powered Perseverance will explore Jezero.  The crater is 28 miles wide and in the ancient past it contained a lake and river delta.  The rover will search for signs of ancient life, scoop up surface samples and study the crater's geology.  In a joint NASA-European Space Agency (ESA) project, the samples will be returned to Earth by 2031.  NASA says this will be the first time in history that they've done a return mission from any planet.

Spectacular Technology

Perseverance has a number instruments on board that it will be testing.  One, called Moxie, will generate oxygen from Mars' thin, carbon dioxide rich atmosphere.  If the system works, the technology could provide future astronauts with an additional oxygen source on Mars.  The rover is also carrying a small helicopter Ingenuity that will do test flights.  If it proves successful, small helicopters will be deployed as scouts for rovers and astronauts on Mars. The rotorcraft also contains a camera system to take spectacular view of Mars during the current mission.  The NASA launch is the third mission to Mars in two weeks, following the United Arab Emirates and China launches.


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