CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – NASA is counting down to launch its latest rover. A robot the size of a car, named Persistence, is set to ascend the Red Planet on Thursday (July 30) during a two-hour window that opens at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT), and you can watch it live.
Perseverance will be launched over the Atlas V rocket from the combined Atlas V rocket complex from the space launch complex 41 here, at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Rover will land on the floor of Mars’ Crater Lake February 18, 2021.
Initial coverage will begin on Thursday at 7 a.m. EDT (1100 GMT), and the launch window remains open until 9:50 a.m. EDT (1350 GMT). During this time there will be several launch options and you can watch the launch here on Space.com as well through NASA. The ULA will also offer a live webcast that begins approximately 20 minutes before departure.
Related: NASA Mission Mars Persistence on the Red Planet (Photos)
The weather forecast looks good for the planned tomorrow, with an 80% chance of favorable conditions. Sunny skies are expected, only minor concerns about cloud cover.
Mighty Atlas V rocket will run in its 541 configuration. This version of Atlas V – “Dominator” by ULA CEO Tori Bruno, is the second largest in the market. The main RD-180 engine will be accompanied by four solid rocket engines along with the upper stage of the Centaur. Together, the first-stage motorcycle and solid rocket engines will produce 2.3 million pounds. traction.
Persistence trip to Mars will take about 6.5 months and end with a tense landing sequence, which NASA officials called “7 minutes of terror.” Perseverance will have to deal with this terror on its own: Once the command to initiate the landing sequence is initiated, the rover itself.
After a successful landing, the rover will spend the next few years exploring the floor of the 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer) Jezero, where the lake and river delta were billions of years ago. NASA scientists have named the crater one of the most powerful places on (ancient) Mars.
As a mobile geologist, the rover is equipped with a set of scientific tools designed to help him search signs of a past life. Perseverance also packs 43 samples from a sample that she will use to collect pieces of Mars that a later mission will find and send back to Earth. During his mission, the unrestrained researcher collects at least 20 samples, and preferably 30 to 35, said members of the mission team.
The Perseverance Mission, a $ 2.7 billion project known as Mars 2020, is just the first stage in a multi-mission relay that will send the first samples back from another planet. NASA is teaming up with the European Space Agency to return the samples to Earth, potentially in 2031.
But before that can happen, Perseverance must be launched. On July 7, the rover was mounted on top of its rocket and spent weeks setting up power and preparing to launch. To power a state-of-the-art rover, NASA relies on a proven and authentic method: nuclear power.
Persistence works on the same power system that the NASA Curiosity Mars rover relies on – devices with plutonium, known as Multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator. The generator takes heat from nuclear fission and converts it into electrical energy that the rover can use to power its systems. A durable power source will be able to keep the rover warm and operational for at least 14 years after completing the planned mission.
Related: Search for life on Mars (timeline photo)
In addition to caching samples, the rover will earn rocks and take many pictures during its journey. As the rover looks for signs of life, it will also conduct a series of demonstrations of technologies that will be crucial for future missions not only to Mars, but also in other areas of the solar system.
One such demonstration is the ISRU Mars Oxygen Mars experiment, or MOXIE for short. This piece of equipment will receive carbon dioxide from the thin Martian atmosphere and convert it to breathable oxygen. As NASA tries to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, it needs to figure out how future astronauts will be able to breathe, and not have to transport their own oxygen supply.
“This is a critical step on our way to sending people to Mars,” Xena Cardman, one of NASA’s newest astronauts, told Space.com. “We want to make sure we do everything right and make it easier with work before life is in danger.”
“This is an exciting time and the most important piece of technology,” she added.
Cardman, who is also a trained biologist, has a unique perspective on future launches. Asked if she was more concerned with the potential of finding life on Mars or testing the technologies of the future that she herself could one day rely on, she told Space.com: “As a biologist, can I come up with a few deeper questions than, Are We Alone? It makes my spine tingle with excitement to think about this prospect. “
Cardman explained that she is sometimes asked if she thinks she has missed the golden age of space exploration (referring to the Apollo era), but believes we now live in the golden age.
“I think it’s the most exciting time in space,” she said. “That’s what we send the rover to Mars while we’re talking about sending people to the moon, it’s unbelievable. ”
The Rover Persistence is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars plan, an exploration program aimed at bringing men and women back to the moon by 2024. This mission and others at NASA Artemis program lunar reconnaissance, designed to be a step for possible flights to Mars.
Asked if she would jump the chance to go to Mars, Cardman said, “Yes!” She said that although NASA does not yet know which astronauts it will send to the moon, it will certainly be released.
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