The rocket will initially ship the payload to Earth orbit, and half an hour after another engine burn will propel the craft on its own seven-month travel to Mars.
The ambitious mission includes the hunt for signs of ancient Martian life.
“Sitting atop the rocket there’s among the best interplanetary payloads ever constructed, along with the thousands of engineers and scientists supporting them they would need to be the best team ever constructed,” Abigail Allwood, a geologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who’s a portion of the science group, said as she and her coworkers awaited the launching. “This rover will kick some astrobiological butt”
The rover is that the successor to the still-operating Curiosity rover, which includes breakthrough discoveries, such as discovering complicated organic molecules of this kind that could be correlated with living things. Perseverance is superficially much like Curiosity but includes another suite of tools that will let it inspect and take pictures of stone formations in much greater detail.
It’s a drill for getting rock cores and soil samples, which the rover will stash in containers which later on could be shipped back to Earth for research in labs. The mission, formally called Mars 2020, is the first leg of what’s called the Mars Sample Return effort.
If that’s the case, that life will most likely be deep underground from the porous stone where water remains liquid.
“We have discovered that Mars has seasons along with a feeling which acts in many ways very similar to the Earth’s. Mars has geology that’s extremely reminiscent of that which we see on Earth — volcanoes, river stations. Along with the climate has varied through times on several different time scales.
If all goes as planned, the rover will create a pinpoint landing in Jezero Crater, a website carefully chosen by scientists because of its plausible habitability at a distant age when Mars was warmer and wetter. The crater was filled with water, and a river flowed into it, depositing sediments at a delta that’s enticing to the scientists that will run the rover remotely.
This assignment may shine a light on”the possible biological history of Mars, and of course by doing this also create a deeper understanding and foundation for future human missions,” explained Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s best science administrator.
Much like Mars missions, this one is filled with risk and promise. Mars is notoriously tough to research with autonomous probes, a lot of which have failed in some manner upon hitting Earth.
The very first order of business will be that the launching. The coronavirus pandemic has slowed several NASA missions, but this one includes a deadline imposed by orbital physics: There is a narrow window as soon as the Earth and Mars are correctly positioned. Perseverance must start by Aug. 15. If NASA can’t move by that time, the assignment will be delayed by a few years before the planets are back in the ideal place.