This February has been a good month for Mars exploration. We recently heard the news about the Emirates Mars orbiter and China’s probe entering an orbit around Mars. Now NASA’s Perseverance is set to land on the red planet’s surface on the 18th.
NASA’s Mars Exploration Program launched this Mars rover mission on Jul. 30, 2020, as part of the Mars 2020. It includes the Perseverance rover and the Ingenuity helicopter drone.
Unlike the earlier mars rover missions, Perseverance has a unique responsibility to return rock samples to Earth, which shows promising signs of habitability on Mars. NASA and the European space agency (ESA) are planning to return the sample in about a decade as part of the larger sample-return mission from Mars.
Ingenuity is a test vehicle to determine the possibility of flight in the thin Martian atmosphere. It will scout for interesting targets to study on Mars and plan the best routes for Perseverance. This robotic copter will form the base for future drone missions on the planet’s surface.
The six-wheeled Perseverance rover is expected to take about seven minutes to land on the martian surface; far less than the 11 minutes it takes for the signals to reach NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles. These seven minutes is referred to as the “seven minutes of terror.” By the time signal from the rover reaches JPL, the rover would have already landed and started deploying its instruments.
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