Mission Names

Mars 2020

Mars 2020

The overall name of the mission, which includes the rover.

Mars 2020


Perseverance, submitted by Alex Mather of Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia.


Spacecraft Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech |
Full image and caption

Mars 2020 Perseverance mission major components

Perseverance rover, cruise stage (to fly to Mars), aeroshell (which includes the back shell and heat shield to protect the rover as it descends toward the surface), and descent stage (which performs the sky crane maneuver to lower the rover to the surface).

Perseverance Rover

Perseverance rover Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech |
Full image and caption

Weight: About 2,260 pounds (1,025 kilograms) on Earth, including the robotic arm with a 99-pound (45-kilogram) turret at the end, and about 866 pounds (393 kilograms) on Mars.

Dimensions: About 10 feet long (not including the arm), 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall (about 3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall); the robotic arm is about 7 feet (2.1 meters) long.

Payload Instruments: 130 pounds (59 kilograms) for seven instruments: Mastcam-Z, Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA), Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry (PIXL), Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX), Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC), and SuperCam.

Sampling and caching system: One bit carousel with 9 drill bits for sample acquisition and surface abrasion, one 1.6-foot-long (0.5-meters-long) internal sample handling arm, and 43 sample collection tubes, including 5 “witness” tubes.

Power: Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) provided by the U.S. Department of Energy that uses the heat from the radioactive decay of plutonium-238 to generate a steady flow of about 110 watts of electricity. Two lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are available to meet power and energy demands during rover activities and are recharged by the MMRTG’s electrical output during quiescent periods.

Microphones: One on SuperCam to support instrument science and one on the port side of the rover for entry, descent, and landing, surface engineering, and public engagement.


The Mars 2020 mission is ferrying 25 cameras to the Red Planet – the most ever flown in the history of deep-space exploration. Twenty-three are part of the Mars 2020 spacecraft and 2 are on the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter.

Diagram showing the cameras onboard the rover Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | Full image and caption

19 cameras total on the rover: 9 color cameras for engineering; 3 cameras for entry, descent, and landing (1 black-and-white dedicated to Terrain-Relative Navigation and 2 color for public engagement and engineering reconstruction of entry, descent, and landing); 2 color cameras with zoom for Mastcam-Z; 1 color camera for SuperCam; 2 color cameras for SHERLOC; 1 for black-and-white with some color capabilities for PIXL; and 1 black-and-white for MEDA.

3 color cameras on the back shell, looking up to capture parachute inflation.

1 color camera on the descent stage, looking down to view the rover from above.


Launch: July 30, 2020, 7:50 a.m. EDT (4:50 a.m. PDT).

Launch site: Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Launch vehicle: United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541.

Spacecraft’s distance to travel, Earth to Mars (July 30 launch): 293 million miles (471 million kilometers).

Surface Mission

Artist concept of Mars 2020 rover Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | Full image and caption

Time of Mars landing: Feb. 18, 2021, 3:55 p.m. EST (12:55 p.m. PST). The time of day at the landing site will be 3:53 p.m. local mean solar time.

Landing site: Jezero Crater, about 18 degrees north latitude, 77 degrees longitude.

One-way light time (the time it takes radio signals to travel): Mars to Earth, on Feb. 18, 2021: about 11 minutes, 22 seconds.

Prime mission duration: One Mars year (about 687 Earth days).

Sampling capability: More than 30 samples.


Mars Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech |
Full image and caption

Size: About half the diameter of Earth but twice the diameter of Earth’s Moon. As a desert planet, Mars has about the same amount of surface area as the dry land on Earth.

Mass: About 10% that of Earth.

Gravity: About 38% as strong as Earth’s.

Orbit: Elliptical and about 1.5 times farther from the Sun than Earth is (about 141.5 million miles or 227.7 million kilometers from the Sun, on average).

Year: 1 Mars year (1 revolution about the Sun) takes 687 Earth days.

Day: 1 Mars day or sol (1 rotation) is 1.027 longer than an Earth day (24 hours, 39 minutes, 35 seconds).

Atmosphere: About 1% the density of Earth’s atmosphere at the surface.

Temperature: Surface temperature averages minus 64 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius); varies from minus 199 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 128 degrees Celsius) during polar night to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) at equator during midday at the closest point in orbit to the Sun.

Distance from Earth on Feb. 18, 2021: 127 million miles (205 million kilometers).


NASA has invested approximately $2.4 billion to build and launch the Mars 2020 Perseverance mission. The estimate to land and operate the rover during its prime mission is approximately $300 million.