NASA launched a mission to Mars with the name of Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on July 30, 2020, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and it is expected that it will reach the red planet on Feb 18, 2021, and will land to the Jezero Crater region of the mars as well as it will seek signs of ancient life and collect rock and soil samples for a possible return to Earth NASA said and it will work at least one Mars year (687 Earth days).

The thing that made this mission so special is the landing site Jezero Crater delta and NASA describes this location important because  On ancient Mars, water-carved channels and transported sediments to form fans and deltas within lake basins. Examination of spectral data acquired from orbit shows that some of these sediments have minerals that indicate chemical alteration by water. Here in Jezero Crater delta, sediments contain clays and carbonates.

Mars 2020 mission contains Perseverance (rover) and Mars helicopter for a tech demo, hitching on the Perseverance rover. Rover is based on the Curiosity rover configuration. It is car-sized about 3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall with weight around 1,025 kilograms.

Rover contains seven scientific instruments like Mastcam-Z, MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamic Analyzer), MOXIE (Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment), PIXL (Planetary  Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry), etc.

The key objective of Perseverance is

  1. Explore a geologically diverse landing site
  2. Assess ancient habitability
  3. Seek signs of ancient life, particularly in special rocks known to preserve signs of life over time
  4. Gather rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by a future NASA mission
  5. Demonstrate technology for future robotic and human exploration

An instrument like SuperCam has a significant contribution from the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (CNES/IRAP), France and it will provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy at a distance and Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) is a set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity, and dust size and shape and principal investigator is Jose Rodriguez-Manfredi, Centro de Astrobiología, Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, Spain as well it also contains Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX)  from Norway which helps to understand ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface.

Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), a technology demonstration that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. If successful, MOXIE’s technology could be used by future astronauts on Mars to burn rocket fuel for returning to Earth.

Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), a spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to map mineralogy and organic compounds. SHERLOC will be the first UV Raman spectrometer to fly to the surface of Mars and will provide complementary measurements with other instruments in the payload. SHERLOC includes a high-resolution color camera for microscopic imaging of Mars’ surface and  Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability with the ability to zoom. The instrument also will determine the mineralogy of the Martian surface and assist with rover operations. The principal investigator is James Bell, Arizona State University in Tempe.

For more information https://mars.nasa.gov/files/mars2020/Mars2020_Fact_Sheet.pdf

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