NASA Launches New Mars Rover
Exciting news in space! NASA has launched the new Mars Rover “Perseverance” and the craft is now safely on its way to Mars. Perseverance, aka “Percy,” will reach Mars in February 2021, and (hopefully) land safely in Jezero Crater.
Perseverance is designed very similar to the Curiosity rover, but has better wheels (a problem that continues to plague Curiosity), new sensors, more cameras (23 in all), and other improvements.
It’s primary mission is to seek out new life (but probably not new civilizations) and to boldly go where no rover has gone before. Jezero Crater was once an ancient Martian river delta, making it a good candidate for searching out signs of currently living or fossilized microbes.
Also onboard is a solar-powered helicopter drone called Ingenuity. Ingenuity is quite small, and only has a camera, but the primary purpose of Ingenuity is to test the drone’s flight dynamics for future missions. It’s hard to test Martian flight dynamics on Earth.