Left Menu
Development News Edition

NASA's new Mars rover launches from Florida to seek signs of past life

NASA's next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth's planetary neighbor. The next-generation robotic rover - a car-sized six-wheeled vehicle carrying seven scientific instruments - also is scheduled to deploy a mini helicopter on Mars and try out equipment for future human missions to the fourth planet from the sun.

Reuters | Updated: 30-07-2020 19:25 IST | Created: 30-07-2020 19:25 IST
NASA's new Mars rover launches from Florida to seek signs of past life

NASA's next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth's planetary neighbor.

The next-generation robotic rover - a car-sized six-wheeled vehicle carrying seven scientific instruments - also is scheduled to deploy a mini helicopter on Mars and try out equipment for future human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. Its arrival at Mars is planned for Feb. 18 at the site of an ancient river delta. It soared into the sky from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) under clear, sunny and warm conditions carried by an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance. The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) facility in Pasadena, California where its mission engineers were located was rattled by an earthquake.

"The spacecraft is in good health and on its way to Mars," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter. JPL mission controllers established its first communication signal with the spacecraft some 90 minutes after liftoff, an affirmation that prompted applause and cheers in the California control room.

This marked NASA's ninth journey to the Martian surface. "It's really kind of a key of a whole bunch of new research that we're doing that is focused on the question ... is there life out there?" the space agency's science division chief Thomas Zurbuchen said on a NASA live stream after the launch.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Mike Watkins quipped about the California quake: "It was just the Earth being excited about going to Mars. It was a very minor event. Everything's fine, and we're on our way to Mars." Perseverance is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, site of a former lake and water system from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists suspect could bear evidence of potential past microbial life.

Scientists have long debated whether Mars - once a much more hospitable place than it is today - ever harbored life. Water is considered a key ingredient for life, and Mars billions of years ago had lots of it on the surface before the planet became a harsh and desolate outpost. This was the third launch from Earth to Mars this month, following probes sent by the United Arab Emirates and China.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter: "Today is a great day for American leadership in space!" Florida is currently one of the U.S. hot spots for the coronavirus pandemic.

HELICOPTER INGENUITY Aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter named Ingenuity due to test powered flight on Mars. The thin Martian atmosphere - 99% less dense than Earth's - poses a challenge to Ingenuity, which was designed to be light, with rotor blades that are larger and spin more quickly than what would be needed for a helicopter of its mass on Earth.

Since NASA's first Mars rover Sojourner landed in 1997, the agency has sent two others - Spirit and Opportunity - that have explored the geology of expansive Martian plains and detected signs of past water formations. NASA also has successfully sent three landers: Pathfinder, Phoenix, InSight. The United States plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s under a program that envisions using a return to the moon as a testing platform for human missions before making the more ambitious crewed journey to Mars.

Perseverance will conduct an experiment to convert elements of the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into propellant for future rockets launching off the Martian surface, or to produce breathable oxygen for future astronauts. The rover also will collect and store rock and soil samples intended to be returned to Earth in the future.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...

COVID-19: Argentina’s health system inefficiencies exaggerate flaws of health information system

You can recover from a drop in the GDP, but you cant recover from death, was the straightforward mindset of Argentinas President Alberto Fernndez and defined the countrys response to COVID-19. The South American nation imposed a strict...

Rwanda’s COVID-19 response commendable but health information system needs improvement

Rwanda is consistently working to improve its health information system from many years. However, it is primarily dependent on the collection and reporting of health data on a monthly basis. Besides, evaluation studies on Rwandas HIS publis...

Videos

Latest News

China grants fresh quota under outbound QDII scheme amid yuan strength

Chinas foreign exchange regulator granted fresh quotas under its outbound QDII scheme for the first time since April 2019, official data showed. The 3.36 billion worth of quotas was granted to 18 institutions under the Qualified Domestic In...

Gunfire erupts in protests after Louisville policemen cleared in Breonna Taylor death

Two white policemen who fired into the apartment of Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, will not be prosecuted for her death because their use of force was justified, and a third was charged with endangering her neighbors, Kentuckys att...

Police officer shot during Breonna Taylor protests in Louisville - FBI

A police officer has been shot in Louisville, Kentucky during protests in that city over a grand jurys decision in the Breonna Taylor case, the FBI said on Wednesday. The FBI Louisville SWAT team has responded to an LMPD officer being shot ...

Trump expresses concerns about security of mail in ballot

US President Donald Trump expressed his concerns on Wednesday about the security of mail-in-ballot and as such deflected questions on a peaceful transition of power should he lose the election in November. We are going to have to see what h...

Give Feedback