Mars Perseverance

Mars Perseverance Has Launched!


The Mars 2020 mission is delivering the Perseverance rover to the Red Planet as part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The program’s ongoing series of missions is helping us answer key questions about the potential for life on Mars. While previous missions have helped us look for signs of habitable conditions in ancient times, Perseverance will take it one step further by searching for signs of past microbial life itself.

A drill on the rover will collect core samples of promising Martian rocks and soil, then will deposit them in a “cache“ on the planet’s surface. A potential future robotic mission could pick them up and ferry them to Earth for analysis in laboratories by equipment too large or bulky to go to Mars. Perseverance will also help us learn more and test technologies that could benefit future human expeditions to Mars.

Countdown to Touchdown

Mars 2020 Mission Overview

The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover will search for signs of ancient microbial life, which will advance NASA’s quest to explore the past habitability of Mars. The rover has a drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil, then store them in sealed tubes for pickup by a future mission that would ferry them back to Earth for detailed analysis. Perseverance will also test technologies to help pave the way for future human exploration of Mars.
Strapped to the rover’s belly for the journey to Mars is a technology demonstration Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, which may achieve a “Wright Brothers moment “ by testing the first powered flight on the Red Planet.

The Mars 2020 mission launched on July 30, 2020, at 4:50 a.m. PDT (7:50 a.m. EDT).
Searching for Ancient Life, Gathering Rocks and Soil

There are several ways that the mission helps pave the way for future human expeditions to Mars and demonstrates technologies that may be used in those endeavors. These include testing a method for producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, identifying other resources (such as subsurface water), improving landing techniques, and characterizing weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars.

ABOUT THE MISSION

THE FACTS

Launch: July 30 at 6:50 AM
Landing: Feb. 18, 2021
Launch Vehicle: Atlas V-541
Launch Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida


Chris Heffner, a NASA Solar System Ambassador, talks about the Mars Perseverance rover launch window, and how we know the exact date when the rover will land on Mars

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ACTIVITY: Mud Splat Craters
The Perseverance Spacecraft will land at Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021. Jezero crater is the only known location on Mars where carbonates (a type of rock) are found in close proximity to features indicating the past presence of a lake in Mars’ distant past.

Try out an activity creating and observing your own craters at home, presented by NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador John Mackin.

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From Mars to Earth
From H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds to Andy Weir’s The Martian, our culture’s fascination with the Red Planet is nothing new. However, the ability to explore this distant world is much more recent in our history.

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Learn About Perseverance

The Perseverance rover carries seven instruments to conduct its science and exploration technology investigations. They are:

  • Mastcam-Z, an advanced camera system with panoramic and stereoscopic imaging capability and the ability to zoom. The instrument also will determine mineralogy of the Martian surface and assist with rover operations. The principal investigator is James Bell, Arizona State University in Tempe.
  • SuperCam, an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The instrument will also be able to detect the presence of organic compounds in rocks and regolith from a distance. The principal investigator is Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico. This instrument also has a significant contribution from the Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (CNES/IRAP) France.
  • Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that will also contain an imager with high resolution to determine the fine-scale elemental composition of Martian surface materials. PIXL will provide capabilities that permit more detailed detection and analysis of chemical elements than ever before. The principal investigator is Abigail Allwood, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
  • Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), a spectrometer that will provide fine-scale imaging and uses an ultraviolet (UV) laser to determine fine-scale mineralogy and detect organic compounds. SHERLOC will be the first UV Raman spectrometer to fly to the surface of Mars and will provide complementary measurements with other instruments in the payload. SHERLOC includes a high-resolution color camera for microscopic imaging of Mars' surface. The principal investigator is Luther Beegle, JPL.
  • The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), an exploration technology investigation that will produce oxygen from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide. The principal investigator is Michael Hecht, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), a set of sensors that will provide measurements of temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure, relative humidity, and dust size and shape. The principal investigator is Jose Rodriguez-Manfredi, Centro de Astrobiologia, Instituto Nacional de Tecnica Aeroespacial, Spain.
  • The Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX), a ground-penetrating radar that will provide centimeter-scale resolution of the geologic structure of the subsurface. The principal investigator is Svein-Erik Hamran, the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment, Norway.
  • NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages NASA's Mars Exploration Program for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
  • Credit
    NASA/JPL-Caltech

    Learning Space With NASA at Home

    Explore the wonder of space exploration from home. Here you can find out how to make rockets, Mars rovers and Moon landers out of materials you have at home. Click the buttom below to explore educational activities families can do at home, video tutorials (available with subtitles en Español) and an FAQ. Be sure to check back. NASA is adding more all the time!

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    Photojournal: PIA19401
    Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M Univ.
    Published: May 1, 2019
    NASA’s Curiosity rover captured this sunset view at Mars’ Gale crater in 2015.

    Additional Information

    For more information and to stay-up-to-date on the Mars rover, see these sites: