Mars 2020 and Helicopter

Perseverance: Everything You Need To Know About The Mars 2020 Rover

Exploring the Red Planet has always been an objective for space agencies. Over the past 30+ years, we have sent dozens of missions to Mars, in the hope to understand and decode the formation for our solar system and look for signs of interstellar life on the Red Planet. Since the landing of Curiosity Rover back in August 2012, we haven’t been there with a rover yet, but now we are! NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is going back to Mars this year, with a mission named “Mars 2020“, aka. “Perseverance“.

Flight To Mars

The mission is currently scheduled to be launched within a 3-week launch window opening on July 17th this year. As per the official data, the rover currently weighs 1050 Kg (2260 pounds) and will fly atop an Atlas V rocket. The rocket’s net weight would be a whopping 1.17 million Pounds (531,000 Kg).

Image Showing Mars 2020 Landing site in comparison to other missions.
(Credits: NASA)

Once launched, the rover and its components would lay dormant until it reaches Mars in February next year. Once that happens, perseverance would make an attempt to land on the surface of mars at Jezero Crater, using the Sky Crane method similar to what was used by the curiosity rover.

Also watch: Why is it so difficult to step on Mars?

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What’s New On Mars 2020?

Though around 85% of Perseverance’s hardware comes from its predecessor, Curiosity, the equipment it features is one of a kind! On its mission to seek out biological signatures on the Red Planet, perseverance includes an X-ray spectrometer and an ultraviolet laser. Also, a ground-penetrating radar has been attached to the rover, with an ability to peek up to 10m (30 feet) under the surface of Mars. The radar will help us uncover the deep-lying secrets of mars which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.

Also Watch: Why is it so difficult to step on Mars?

Curiosity Rover Vs Mars 2020 Perseverance
Image showing similarity between Curiosity(left) and Mars 2020(Right)
(Credits: NASA)

The Mars 2020 rover has improved eyesight as well. It includes a total of 23 cameras, as compared to 17 on Curiosity. These newer cameras are capable of capturing coloured images of up to 20 Mega Pixels as compared to 1 MegaPixel B&W images captured by earlier pieces of equipment. An increased resolution means the rover would have to spend less time taking multiple pictures of the surface and stitching them into a single picture and would be able to travel much farther in a limited amount of time.

Related: Top 10 Most Expensive Space Missions in the History

Mars 2020 would also be the first-ever Mars mission to include a microphone with it. History will be made, as we humans would be able to listen to the voice of mars for the first time in our existence!

Mars2020 info
Image: Perseverance Rover Structure (Credits: NASA)

What makes the mission even more interesting is that it also includes a drone with it, which will fly and conduct the aerial survey of Mars. Named “Mars Helicopter Scouter”, the drone weighs 1.8 Kg (4 lbs) and includes rotors of 1.2 m in diameter.

Since the helicopter would only be a technological demonstration to test for new technologies on Mars, it would only fly for a total of 5 times during its 1 month test period. Also, it would only open after 2.5 months from the landing of Mars 2020 rover and cover almost 600 m in the flight. That would also constitute a maximum flight of 3 minutes, and an altitude of less than 10 m.

Mars 2020 Helicopter
Image: Artist illustration of Mars Helicopter Scout
Credits: NASA

Search For Life

The prime objective of the Mars 2020 rover is to conduct a surface analysis of the martian environment and look for signs of biological life on the red planet. For that, the rover will collect around 20-30 samples for the Martian soil in the ” Adaptive Caching Assembly“, which shall be retrieved in a future mission to Mars. Along with that, it would also carry an instrument to generate oxygen and pave way for future human missions to Mars.

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Mars2020-Rover Facts
Credits: NASA

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