Perseverance the Mars rover

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Ava Charnley, Staff writer

On July 30 2020, NASA launched the first rover of its kind, one that might change the game of space exploration. It was equipped with new technology that will allow everyone to experience the mystical planet Mars that seems so far out of reach for us. The first images from the rover landing site Jezero Crater, an ancient lake on Mars, appeared on Feb. 21. There will only be more to come as its journey has just begun on the planet thousands of miles away.

 

The rover was named Perseverance and was a part of the first mission from NASA to look for ancient life. Perseverance will also be extracting samples and studying the climate and geology of Mars; however, the rover’s mission doesn’t just end there. NASA equipped the rover so you can follow it through its journey to Mars while sitting on your couch. The NASA website has a map of where the rover is located and what the terrain around it looks like. It is also sending back realtime panoramic pictures of Mars showing parts of the exploration experience that have never been seen. 

The descent of a Mars rover has never been captured before. There have been a total of nine rovers sent to mars, so far and none of them have shown this perspective before. Image sourced from https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020//.

 

This is not the only technical advancement that will uncover some of the wonders of Mars. The engineers of this project have equipped Perseverance with two microphones to hear the sounds on Mars. This is the first time that we will hear what another planet sounds like. On NASA’s website you can listen to records of the sounds on Mars and see what you would sound like on Mars. More sound will be released soon. 

 

The engineers on the Perseverance project also decided that it might be time to try something new on Mars, the first powered helicopter flight Ingenuity. The helicopter hitched a ride on the underbelly of Perseverance as it made its journey. When it arrived on Mars its sole mission was to test the limits of space flight and its possibilities.However, the Mars’ atmosphere makes this more difficult as the air is a lot thinner than on Earth. The air density of Mars is less than 1% of Earth’s; this makes lift difficult to achieve on Mars. 

 

That is not the only thing this helicopter has to overcome. It has to fly by itself. Little to no commands will come from Earth to signal it on when and where to fly.  This might not seem as important as a rover that is looking for signs of ancient life, but it really is. If a helicopter can fly on Mars imagine all the possibilities later on: Mars colony, space travel, vacations on Mars, and maybe even new advancements in flight on Earth. This may seem far-fetched, but you never know. The possibilities are truly endless with the discovery of flight on another planet. 

Ingenuity, a small helicopter, is the first powered flight to take place on Mars. Image sourced from https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter.

Perseverance has many more obstacles to overcome, but this rover has an opportunity to change some of our basic understandings of our next door neighbor Mars. From the possibilities of flight on another planet, the scenery, and the geological makeup, there is so much Mars could offer. Who knows what Perseverance will uncover while on Mars. I do know one thing though, our knowledge and understanding of the universe around us can only grow with the help of our rover friend Perseverance. 

 

For more information and to take a peek for yourself check out the links below.