Mars 2020: Launch, goals and everything you need to know about the mission to Mars

Mars 2020 is getting closer to the moment of truth, now that its rover already has an official name.

And is that NASA’s next mission to Mars has objectives that not only nurture scientific ambitions but also the popular imagination. Mars 2020, which consists of sending a modeled vehicle based on the legacy of Curiosity, will address key questions about the potential for life on Mars.

The Mars 2020 mission, specifically, will be in charge of looking for signs that the Red Planet had the appropriate conditions to harbor life, and of finding signs of past microbial life.

“Previously, the Curiosity mission was charged with understanding whether there was a possibility of sustaining life [en Marte]. One way to look at it is ‘to see if we find the abandoned house,’ “he says. Diana Trujillo, aerospace engineer from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “With Mars 2020 we are trying to see if there are traces inside that house that show us that there was someone there.”

To find these answers, the Mars 2020 mission is equipped with pioneering technology: from instruments to measure the molecular composition of Martian rocks to a helicopter.

NASA plans to launch the rover in mid-2020. Once the vehicle is finished assembling at the facilities of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, the Mars 2020 rover, which by then will be officially baptized, He will undertake a coast-to-coast journey to reach his launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

With a view to continuing exploration of our closest planetary neighbor, we take a look at all the details of the Mars 2020 mission.

What is the objective of Mars 2020?

The Mars 2020 mission aims to look for not only signs that Mars has the conditions to be inhabited but also traces of past microbial life. The Mars 2020 mission represents the first phase of collecting samples from the Martian soil that will be returned to Earth for study in a future mission.

“Apollo 11 demonstrated the immense value of bringing back samples from other worlds for analysis here on Earth,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, in August 2019. “Today, we are standing on Apollo’s shoulders, in preparation to take the initial step on humanity’s first round trip for the return of samples from another planet: Mars. “

On the other hand, “the 2020 mission rover will also contribute to the preparation necessary to send a manned mission to Mars,” Fernando Abilleira, director of design and navigation for the Mars 2020 mission at the Laboratory of Mars, told CNET in Spanish. NASA Jet Propulsion.

When and where will Mars 2020 launch?

NASA plans to launch the Mars 2020 rover on July 20, 2020, “when Earth and Mars are in good relative position to each other to land on Mars,” according to NASA.

Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and will be aboard the United V Launch Alliance Atlas V-541 rocket.

When will Mars 2020 arrive on Mars?

NASA expects Mars 2020 to reach its destination in February 2021.

What will be the landing site for Mars 2020?

jezerocrater

This image captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter shows the delta region in Jezero Crater.

NASA decided that the mission’s landing site will be Jezero Crater, which once housed a lake. The crater bed, which is about 49 kilometers in diameter, is rich in sediment, according to NASA. This makes the Jezero Crater a suitable place to search for biosignals.

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How long will the Mars 2020 mission last?

The mission will last a Martian year, or what is just under two Earth years. But yes Curiosity u Opportunity they are some sign of something, both rovers have far exceeded the stipulated period of duration.

How much does the Mars 2020 vehicle weigh and measure?

The vehicle weighs more than 2,300 pounds (1,050 kilograms). It is 3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide and 2.2 meters high. It is the size of a compact car, as NASA says.

What is the official name of the rover?

On March 5, 2020, NASA announced the rover official name: Perseverance.

What is the cost of Mars 2020?

The cost of the mission is estimated to be about $ 2.1 billion, a figure that falls within the average of what past missions to Mars, such as Curiosity ($ 2.5 billion), have cost, according to NASA.

What instruments does Perseverance have?

Perseverance has seven main instruments:

  • MEDA: This instrument is in charge of making climatological measurements such as wind speed and direction, humidity level and temperature.
  • Mastcam-Z – color: This camera system will be in charge of taking panoramic 3D and color images of the Martian surface and its atmosphere. Cameras can do zoom and focus, so that detailed analyzes of distant objects can be performed.
  • MOXIE: This instrument is in charge of producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere composed of carbon dioxide.
  • PIXL: This instrument will measure the chemical composition of Martian rocks on a minimal scale. The PIXL can also take very close photos of rocks and soil texture. With this instrument and its capabilities, scientists hope to be able to search for signs of past microbial life on Mars.
  • RIMFAX: This instrument will be able to observe the geological characteristics that lie below the surface of Mars when using radar waves.
  • SHERLOC: This instrument is mounted on the robotic arm of the rover. Its function is to detect minerals, organic molecules and possible biosignals with the use of spectrometers, a laser and a camera.
  • SuperCam: With the use of a camera, laser, and spectrometers, the SuperCam will identify the chemical, atomic, and molecular composition of rocks and Martian soil.

What are the parts of the Mars 2020 rover?

The Perseverance rover has parts “similar to what a living creature would need to stay alive,” according to NASA. Therefore, the vehicle has:

  • A body, that is, a structure that protects the “vital organs” of the vehicle.
  • A brain, or in other words, all the computers it houses to process information.
  • Temperature controls
  • A neck and a head, or what would be a mast for the cameras to give the rover a human-scale perspective.
  • Eyes and ears, which would be the instruments and cameras that feed the rover with information about its surroundings.
  • An arm and a robotic hand to collect rock samples.
  • Wheels and legs to transport on Martian terrain.
  • Electric power source
  • A communication system composed of antennas to “listen” and “speak”.

Who works at Mars 2020?

The Mars 2020 mission team is multinational and multi-institutional. The mission’s core team works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory based in Pasadena, California. Among them are talented Latino engineers and scientists, such as Christina Díaz Hernández, Luis Domínguez and Diana Trujillo.

And what about the Martian helicopter?

One of the peculiarities of the Mars 2020 mission is the addition of a helicopter, which is called Ingenuity.

The objective of helicopter, weighing just under 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), is to see if a heavier vehicle can be flown over in the Martian skies.

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Curiosity and Perseverance: Are they related?

Perseverance builds on the work and legacy of its predecessor Curiosity, a well-loved and hard-working rover that has yielded many fruits.

But as a next-generation rover, Perseverance is simply “smarter” than Curiosity, says Jessica Samuels, chief flight systems engineer for Mars 2020.

And it is that Perseverance not only has seven main instruments, but it will also carry a helicopter that will deploy across the Martian horizon to carry out studies.

The mission takes over from Curiosity to look not only for signs that Mars may have been habitable in the past, but also for traces of the existence of microbial life in the past.

“Previously, the Curiosity mission was charged with understanding whether there was a possibility of sustaining life [en Marte]”says Diana Trujillo.” One way to see it is to see if we find the abandoned house. Was someone there or not? Now with Mars 2020 we are trying to see if there are traces inside that house that show us that there was someone there. “

Is Mars 2020 a manned mission?

Mars 2020 is not a manned mission, that is, it will not be sent to a human crew on the spacecraft. The main passengers of this trip are the Mars 2020 rover, its seven instruments and a helicopter.

Are tickets for Mars 2020 sold?

No. Although it is an obvious answer, it is one of the most frequently asked questions on the Internet. Mars 2020 is not a manned mission; that is, it will not take a human crew to Mars. Mars 2020, however, does represent a step in preparing for a manned mission to the Red Planet in the future.

Despite the fact that prominent figures such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have brought up the concept of spacial tourism (SpaceX has, in fact, already sold a space ticket to a Japanese billionaire), there are still no concrete plans to bring space tourists to Mars.

That said, you will be able to witness the launch of Mars 2020. NASA usually broadcasts the launch of its missions on its YouTube channel. Check back for more details on how to watch the live stream of the Mars 2020 launch next year.

Mars 2020 is not a manned mission, so it will not take humans – or settlers – to the Red Planet. However, Mars 2020 will test instruments and technology that will aid in the preparation of a future manned mission to Mars, according to Fernando Abilleira, director of design and navigation for the Mars 2020 mission at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

For example, Mars 2020 will carry “an instrument known as MOXIE that will test a technology to extract oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere,” says Abilleira. “This oxygen will serve not only for astronauts to breathe on Mars but also as fuel for space vehicles to return to Earth.”

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