Was there life on Mars? New podcast explores instruments aboard Mars rover

Rodiano Bonacci
Luglio 31, 2020

NASA will launch its latest Mars rover Perseverance from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida imminently with a small box-shaped helicopter attached.

This isn't the only Mars mission heading to the Red Planet as of this month.

NASA's latest Mars rover Perseverance is set to launch Thursday, with 10.9 million names of people from around the globe already on board.

In the launch of the Perseverance mission, the Philippines ranked 23rd with 69,995 submitted names.

NASA will stream the launch of its Mars rover LIVE on all its social media channels including, Facebook, Twitter as well as YouTube.

China's Tianwen-1 mission is even more ambitious, comprising an orbiter, a lander and a rover.

Japan has its own Martian moon mission planned in 2024 that will collect samples of Phobos - Mars' largest moon.

The mission will be exploring the Jezero Crater to study the planet Mars' tenant ability, seeking signs of ancient microbial life, collecting and storing samples of selected rock and soil, and preparing for future human missions. The Rosalind Franklin rover, a joint effort by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos), has been postponed to 2022 after the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic affected operations.

"This podcast gives the inside scoop from the Los Alamos Planetary Exploration Team on the eve of the historic Perseverance trip to Mars", says Roger Wiens, lead scientist for SuperCam-one of the advanced instruments aboard the rover-at Los Alamos National Laboratory. This plaque isn't the only community-centric piece hitching a ride with the rover; almost 11 million names from around the world are also making the trip as part of NASA's online boarding pass program.

The rover will have seven months to explore and document possible signs of life in an ancient lake, which scientists believe may have existed billions of years ago on the planet's surface. The mission launch window opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT, this Thursday. Just today it was announced that Airbus will build the spacecraft responsible for delivering this precious cargo to Earth, in a mission that's expected to launch in 2026. The launch will utilize an Atlas V rocket in the 541 configuration, which utilizes a 5 meter payload fairing, will be powered by 4 solid rocket motors, and will complete its initial powered launch push with a single Centaur engine.

Stay posted to Spaceflight Insider for further coverage of the mission, from liftoff to landing and beyond.

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