History was made on February 18, 2021, when the project team for “Mars 2020 Mission” successfully confirmed the touchdown of a new rover named “Perseverance” on the surface of Mars.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known as NASA, created the mission “Mars 2020” to explore an area of Mars known as the Jezero Crater. This site was specifically chosen by a team of scientists for the geological diversity offered in the crater.
Jeannette Luna is a planetary geologist at Tech. She received a grant from NASA’s Mars Data Analysis Program which is used to study delta’s and fans that appear on the surface of Mars with a student group.
Luna’s group uses orbital data to make geologic maps. The students also study sedimentary processes and use this information to interpret the amount of water that flowed across the surface of Mars in the past.
”The most exciting part of this landing is that we’re exploring a site to bring samples back to Earth. This mission is the first in a three-part series of missions over the next decade that will use engineering and robotics to collect the samples, launch them off the Red Planet, and return them to Earth for scientific study,” Luna said about the recent landing of the Mars rover.
The Perseverance rover has a specific mission to explore the possibility of ancient life that could have once lived on Mars. The specific area of Mars where the rover landed was carefully chosen by a team of scientists at NASA.
“The igneous rocks around the landing site can tell us about the age of Martian crust and how volcanic eruptions happened in the past. Sedimentary rocks in the delta show us how water, or brine, once flowed across the surface. Having both types of rock in Jezero Crater is wonderful because it tells us that two ingredients for life were present: heat and water. It’s the ideal location to look for evidence of past life on Mars,” Luna said.
The Perseverance Rover is the 5th rover to explore the surface of Mars and features new technology.
“The Ingenuity helicopter, loaded beneath the rover, will be brought out for a test flight later this spring. And, the sample cache system will drill samples about the size of a pen, collect them into the rover, and later drop them off at a pick-up point for a future mission.” Luna explained.
The Perseverance Rover has also successfully become the first rover to send audio recording back to Earth.
By visiting www.NASA.gov you can take an in-depth panoramic tour from the view of the Perseverance Rover as well as listen to the audio received by scientists so far.