The Mars 2020 rover is loaded with a suite of scientific instruments built with help from top universities from around the globeWHAT WILL PERSEVERANCE
WHAT WILL PERSEVERANCE DO?
Perseverance has a number of tasks in the months and years ahead, including hunting for signs of past life on Mars.
Speaking this week on Neil Degrasse Tyson’s podcast, StarTalk, Nasa Chief Scientist James Green laid out the space agency’s primary goal.
“We want to search the past from the rock record to see if Mars could have supported life,” he said.
“My secret wish is that we find it. We don’t anticipate getting fossils, but there are potential cells or microbial indications that life could have survived on Mars in its early history.”
Here’s a quick summary of the mission’s headline experiments, which I’ll discuss in further detail a little later on.
Perseverance is carrying two microphones that will capture the first audio recordings from the Martian surface.
The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (Moxie) is a small contraption housed in the belly of the rover that will convert a small amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide into oxygen.
It’s a 1/200 scale test model of a design that may be used on Mars to provide future colonists with breathable air.
Arguably the coolest of Perseverance’s gadgets, Ingenuity is a small drone helicopter that will attempt the first powered flight on Mars.
Perseverance will load these with samples of Martian rock.
They’ll be carried back to Earth for analysis by a European Space Agency probe planned for 2028.
Scientists will then analyse the samples – the first ever returned from another planet – for signs of fossilised life.