What to Expect From Perseverance

NASA anxiously awaited the day when Perseverance, a new rover, would land on Mars. After all, it has been nearly seven months since the team launched the rover into space. Following a safe landing, the Jet Propulsion Lab crew rejoiced roughly 134 million miles away from the rover. It has been about two and a half years since NASA has received any reports from Mars as the last rover, Curiosity, died during a dust storm in 2018. NASA tried to fix Curiosity from afar, to no avail. The mission was declared complete in Feb. 2019. There are big plans about humans moving to Mars, but we still have some research to do on the planet. Scientists on Earth are hoping that Perseverance will unlock some secrets about history on Mars.

A rover on Mars Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

 

The actual design of the rover is fascinating. Perseverance’s main components are similar to Curiosity’s. We learned a lot from Curiosity, so the team made a few adjustments to make Perseverance more durable. The tires, for example, had to be upgraded. When Curiosity first landed, there were already holes in the wheels. To prevent that from happening again, the team of builders completely redesigned the tread pattern. Within Perseverance, there is a small helicopter called Ingenuity. This helicopter will detach from the rover to take some aerial shots of Mars. These pictures will make future missions easier. Perhaps the most exciting part of the new rover is the sample collection arm and storage. NASA is going to attempt to bring back the first samples from Mars. The samples extracted by Perseverance will eventually be shot into orbit around Mars. A different mission will obtain the samples out of orbit and return them to Earth.

 

Jezero crater on Mars Photo by Kevin M. Gill from Pexels

 

The main point of Pereseverance’s mission is to determine if there was ever life on Mars. We know that there is water on Mars, so it isn’t outrageous to think that there were once living creatures on Mars. Perseverance is starting its mission in the Jezero Crater. Scientists have been able to identify a delta in the crater. From what scientists know, rivers cause deltas to form. This means that there was once a river in this area. A river would be the most plausible place to find evidence of life, so that’s where Perseverance will be doing a majority of its work. 

 

It should be fairly easy for scientists to analyze the samples and determine if there was ever life on Mars. There are specific patterns that occur in rocks on Earth that prove that there was ancient life. Scientists will be looking for those patterns in the rocks from Mars and new questions will arise regardless of the results. If scientists find evidence of life, we will have to find out why there are no living creatures now. If there are no signs of life, we will have to think of ways to make Mars habitable.

 

NASA has been sharing many of the pictures Perseverance is taking. There was even an audio message that revealed what the winds on Mars sound like. It will take time for the biggest questions of Mars to be answered. The first sample retrieval mission will take place in 2026, and the second will be in 2031. Hopefully, Perseverance will be able to outlive Curiosity’s lifespan so that NASA can retrieve all of their samples.