In 2012, NASA sent out the Curiosity rover to Mars and successfully landed it on the red sand. Now, it is top news that NASA has sent out yet again another rover — Perseverance — to explore the red planet. In order to discover if there is life or once was life on Mars, this deep space mission is necessary.
When will NASA’s Perseverance rover reach Mars?
NASA’s Perseverance rover will reach Mars on February 18, 2021. It has been about a 6 month trip thus far. July 30, 2020 is when the Perseverance rover took off from Earth. Expect an arrival time at about 3:55 p.m. Eastern.
In order to descend the rover down safely onto Mars, it will use the same process used to skycrane the Curiosity rover.
How fast does the Perseverance rover travel on its way to Mars.
The Perseverance is currently traveling at 24,600 miles per hour. The Curiosity topped its speed at 13,200 mph. The rover prior to the Curiosity, the Opportunity, traveled at 12,000 mph.
What can go wrong during the Perseverance rover’s travel to reach Mars?
Well, there is a likelihood that the Perseverance could take a wrong path and completely miss the planet all together. In 1992, the Mars Observer got lost prior to its arrival to Mars. Again, in 1999, two rovers were also lost on their way to the red planet. Oh boy! Let’s cross our fingers.
Also, space debris, and energy in space, can interfere with the travel of the Perseverance, perhaps damaging it completely or components of it in the process. This interference can cause glitches in the spacecraft computers and corrupt data. In turn, electronics can become completely destroyed.
Engineering problems can also have an effect on whether the rover lands safely on Mars or not. In 1999, NASA’s Mars Polar Lander crashed right before landing near the planet’s south pole, due to technical difficulties with the engineering.
How many U.S. rovers are currently on Mars?
There are currently 4 rovers on Mars at this point in time: Sojourner, Opportunity, Spirit and Curiosity. If all goes well, the Perseverance will be the fifth rover to have landed on Mars.
NASA will livestream the landing on February 18, 2021 on its Mars 2020 website at 2:15 p.m. Eastern.
What makes the Perseverance rover different from all the other rovers that have landed on Mars?
For one, it’s faster while traveling to Mars at 24,600 mph speed, faster than any other rover in the past.
Secondly, this rover will include 19 cameras and 4 more within the landing equipment. No other rover has carried more. The Curiosity, which once held the record, has 17.
In addition, the Perseverance has a microphone. No other Mars rover mission has had a microphone. Now, we are able to hear what Mars sounds like.
Fourthly, the Perseverance includes a more advanced robot arm for collecting samples. This arm can drill into rocks and can interchange between various functions. It is able to also identify minerals on the red planet with a sensor suite called “SHERLOC”. It also has a X-ray spectrometer and camera called “PIXL”. The Perseverance also includes a sample catching system that manages samples.
Lastly, but not least, the MOXIE. This experimental instrument is designed to help demonstrate a technology for future round trips to the planet. It converts carbon dioxide into oxygen. Mars is 95% carbon dioxide. If astronauts are to send anything back into space, it requires fuel. And to burn fuel, you need oxygen. The amount of fuel needed to send over to Mars from Earth is of a large volume, extremely space consuming. The MOXIE will make life much easier for astronauts.
Hopefully, you’ll tune in on the Mars 2020 website at 2:15 p.m. Eastern time to watch the livestream of the Perseverance landing on February 18, 2021.