Will an outer-space rover reveal our future?

NASA made history by successfully landing the Persevering Rover on the red planet of Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. It took 203 days, or six months and 19 days for the Perseverance Rover to reach Mars! The rover was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base on July 30, 2020 and landed on Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18.

The average trajectory and launch window to Mars takes about seven months on average. NASA achieved this great success under the able guidance of Dr. Swati Mohan, an American scientist of Indian descent. After a 470-million-km journey from Earth, the spacecraft ploughed through the Martian atmosphere. During this stage, its heat shield had to endure temperatures as high as 2,100C (3,800F).

When it was about 11 km above the ground, the spacecraft deployed a parachute, slowing the heaviest payload in the history of Mars exploration from a speed of Mach 1.7 (2,099 km/h; 1,304 mph) to about 320 km/h (200 mph). The rover, the size of a sports utility car and weighs 1,026 kilograms, is designed to revisit the Jezero Crater on Mars under NASA Mars Mission 2020.

It will spend a few weeks in necessary testing before inspecting the crater for two years. Researchers have thought that the ancient river delta used to flow here. At one point, it was completely flooded. The site has been selected based on an aerial survey conducted earlier. This crater is very high and speaks of water on our neighbouring Mars 3.5 billion years ago. Samples of mineral clay carbonate were found around it. Researchers have speculated that tiny creatures, such as geese and toxins, may have existed long ago. Here the rover will study geology. Rocks and soil samples will be collected and stored so that any future mission can inspect them if required.

That mission will then bring these specimens to Earth. The rover will test technologies that will help humans land on Mars in the future. It also includes equipment that produces oxygen from the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide. The rover is equipped with seven state-of-the-art scientific instruments, 19 cameras and two microscopes.

It is also accompanied by a small helicopter, Ingenuity, specially designed to fly in the rare atmosphere of Mars. Its sole purpose is probably to demonstrate the flight to Mars. The mission has four main scientific objectives, which are to be fulfilled in the given time frame. 1. The purpose of this study is to establish the existence and extent of water on Mars long ago and to find evidence of ancient life on Mars. 2. Collecting rocks and soil samples.

To study biological phenomena by studying rocks, chemical compounds, isotopes, especially rock samples. 3. Collecting core samples by digging rocks, collecting samples of regolith. Collect them on a suitable surface. 4. To examine the atmosphere of Mars for human life, to find out the production of oxygen from the atmosphere there.

The landing system, cruise stage, and power system are similar to the Curiosity Rover, but the lessons learned from Curiosity are taken seriously in this rover. The Perseverance’s wheels are thicker, more durable, stronger and more vibrant than the aluminum wheels. Titanium radiator bars are mounted on the wheels. Like Curiosity, it has a more extended robotic arm (2.1 m) and stronger.

The component itself is responsible for digging deep rocks, collecting specimens, and storing them in clean tubes. That’s why the Perseverance Rover weighed 14 percent more than the Curiosity. The Perseverance was named after a ‘name the rover’ contest held by NASA. Twenty-eight thousand names were suggested by the contestants. T he competition was won by Alexander Mather, a 7th grader at Lake Braddock Secondary School, Barca, Virginia. Mather and his family were invited to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center to celebrate the rover’s launch.

Now we can only hope that the Perseverance Rover will answer the many questions that pop up in our minds about whether there will ever be life on Mars. Will we discover the tiny microbes from trees and plants that may exist? If this rover discovers any evidence of the existence of life on Mars, we too will be able to say that we can survive not only on Mother Earth, but also on our neighbouring red planet.

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora
editor@asiametro.ca

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