By: Bella Kolin
On Thursday, July 30th at 7:50 am EDT, NASA launched its new, advanced rover on a mission to reach Mars. Launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the rover’s mission goal is to explore the planet for new information, identify past life, and bring back rock samples to Earth. It is estimated that on February 18th, 2021, the rover will land on the Jezero Crater, and stay there for about 1 Mars year (687 Earth days).
Perseverance, the rover, measures 10 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall. At 2,260 pounds (1,025 kilograms), it weighs less than a small car. This incredible rover was built with temperature controls, which include internal heaters, a layer of insolation, and more. It’s “neck and head” feature the ability to take pictures in a human-scale view. The “arm and hand” were built in order to collect and handle the rocks, which will eventually be brought back to Earth to be studied.
The spacecraft used to carry the rover is made up of 5 main parts. The first part is the cruise stage, which includes the aeroshell, backshell, and heat shield. The aeroshell protects the rover from intense heat when entering the planet. The descent stage delivers the rover safely, then separates from the cruise stage once it has arrived in the orbit of Mars. The rover makes up the fourth part of the spacecraft; it consists of six wheels to exit and enter Mars. Lastly, the heat shield on the bottom drops away once the rover begins to explore the planet.
A few hours after the launch, NASA’s team working on the project received a signal from the spacecraft, indicating it had entered safe mode. This means that all but the essential systems are shut down until mission control finds the solution to the problem. The problem was caused by a sensor, which indicated the spacecraft was cooler than expected. It was announced that the spacecraft exited safe mode the next day, and now Perseverance is headed to Mars.
If you’re interested in learning more about this mission, check out the NASA Mars 2020 website (Mars 2020 Mission Perseverance Rover) to watch the launch video, track the rover, send your name to Mars, and much more!
Photo courtesy of Nasa.gov.