The Summer of Mars: Perseverance & Ingenuity

In this episode our panel discusses NASA’s upcoming Perseverance mission, including its passenger Ingenuity, the first ever helicopter designed to fly on Mars. Targeted for launch in July 2020, the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will seek signs of past life, set aside a returnable cache with the most compelling rock core and soil samples, and demonstrate technology needed for the future exploration of Mars.

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MEET OUR PANEL
Joining us for this panel are Jenna Foertsch (https://www.jennafoertsch.com/), Ken Ruffin (board of advisor for the National Space Society at https://space.nss.org/) and Christian Ready, astronomer and creator of Launchpad Astronomy (https://youtube.com/christianready).

Mars Perseverance Mission Overview
The Mars Perseverance rover mission is part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet. The Mars Perseverance mission addresses high-priority science goals for Mars exploration, including key questions about the potential for life on Mars. The mission takes the next step by not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, but also searching for signs of past microbial life itself. The Mars Perseverance rover introduces a drill that can collect core samples of the most promising rocks and soils and set them aside in a “cache” on the surface of Mars. The mission also provides opportunities to gather knowledge and demonstrate technologies that address the challenges of future human expeditions to Mars. 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.

The mission is timed for a launch opportunity in July/August 2020 when Earth and Mars are in good positions relative to each other for landing on Mars. That is, it takes less power to travel to Mars at this time, compared to other times when Earth and Mars are in different positions in their orbits. To keep mission costs and risks as low as possible, the Mars 2020 design is based on NASA’s successful Mars Science Laboratory mission architecture, including its Curiosity rover and proven landing system.

Mars 2020 Spacecraft
The spacecraft is the protective “spaceship” that enables the precious cargo (that is, the Perseverance rover!) to travel between Earth and Mars. It is separate from the launch vehicle that carries the spacecraft and the rover outside of Earth’s atmosphere and gravitational pull. The spacecraft includes the mechanical units that safely carry and maneuver the rover through the Martian atmosphere to a landing on Mars.

For more information, visit https://nasa.gov/perseverance

Video & images Courtesy of NASA/jpl-caltech

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