NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover is heading to the Red Planet to search for signs of ancient life, collect samples for future return to Earth and help pave the way for human exploration. The rover will carry with it several technology demonstrations including a helicopter, which will attempt humanity's first powered flight on another planet. Perseverance has a new set of science instruments and the ability to “self-drive” on the Martian surface. The Perseverance rover is scheduled to launch from Space Launch Complex 41 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center as early as July 30. It is set to land at Mars' Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021. For more information on Mars 2020, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/perseverance and https://mars.nasa.gov/perseverance Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
- [Woman] You know Mars is the closest place that we can reach with robotic exploration that we think had a really good chance of having ancient life.
- [Man] The Perseverance Rover will land at a location called Jezero Crater. Jezero Crater is a very interesting place. It's a crater that once held a lake.
- [Woman] There are a lot of craters on the surface of Mars that could have once hosted ancient lakes. But not ever crater that we think had a lake, actually preserves evidence that that lake was there.
- [Man] It had an inflow channel and it had an outflow channel. That means it was filled, the crater was filled with water.
- [Woman] In Jezero, we have probably one of the most beautifully preserved delta deposits on Mars in that crater.
- [Man] This is a wonderful place to live for micro organisms, and it is also a wonderful place for those micro-organisms to be preserved so that we can find them now so many billions of years later.
- There is no other place on Mars that has the unique combination of the lake setting, the beautifully preserved delta and the diverse mineralogy that we have in Jezero Crater. So it's truly a special landing site.
- The major goal of the Perseverance mission is to investigate astrobiology on Mars in particular, to address the question of whether life ever existed on Mars. The Perseverance Rover starts with a design that's very similar to Curiosity. But we added to it a whole new set of science instruments. And these science instruments were purposefully selected to help us in the search for bio signatures.
- We're gonna be taking microphones with us. For the first time, we're gonna have that human sense on another planet.
- Perseverance carries with her a grand experiment in space fairing technology. A helicopter, the name of which is now Ingenuity.
- One of the major upgrades that Perseverance has from Curiosity is that it's able to self drive for a distance of up to 200 meters per day. As the rover is driving, it's literally building the map of the road it's driving on on Mars.
- Scientists for years have told us that to really unlock the secrets of Mars, we have to bring samples from Mars back to Earth.
- [Man] So what Mars 2020 is going to do is to drill samples, put them in small tubes, we're gonna seal it in it's own individual tube. We set them on the surface to provide a target for the second ignitions. Which hopefully will get into development in the next several years. And could potentially get the samples back to Earth by 2031.
- [Man] Perseverance is a very, very profound first step in both our understanding of our place in the universe and a stepping stone towards human exploration on Mars.