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Launch: July 30 at 6:50 AM Launch Period: July 30 – Aug. 15, 2020 Landing: Feb. 18, 2021 Launch Vehicle: Atlas V-541 Launch Location: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
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.
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.
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.
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!