NASA successfully launches Perseverance Mars rover to look for life on Mars

  • The US space agency has launched its new Mars rover Perseverance on a mission to directly detect life on Mars.

    NASA's latest Mars rover was successfully launched last night from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the US. The Perseverance rover will attempt to land on Mars in February next year and has been aimed at the over 40km-wide Jezero Crater near the planets' equator.

    February will be a big month for news from the red planet, as Perseverance isn't the only Mars mission to make landfall that month. The United Arab Emirates Hope probe will also arrive in February and will orbit the planet for 687 days to collect data on the planet's atmosphere, and China's recently launched Tianwen-1 rover will land the same month.

    Perseverance is similar to the Curiosity rover that's been sending back snapshots of the martian surface for some time, but it has significantly upgraded instruments. A total of 23 cameras, a suite of microphones, and internal tools that can directly test for current or fossilised life on the planet are sure to send back some interesting data. One instrument will even attempt to make oxygen from atmospheric CO2 on Mars, which may pave the way for future manned missions.

    The Perseverance rover's primary mission is to look for evidence of life on Mars, and at the end of the several-year mission it will also collect rock and soil samples to be retrieved in a later mission and brought home to Earth. Scientists believe that the Jezero Crater the rover will be landing in was once an ancient lake, so there's a good chance that evidence of ancient microbial life could be found there.

    Source: BBC News

     

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