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NASA Mars Mission Has an Official Name: Perseverance Rover Set to Launch in July 2020

File photo of NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (Image: NASA)

File photo of NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (Image: NASA)

The NASA Perseverance rover will take off between July 17 and August 5, and land at Mars on February 18, 2021 on the Jezero crater.

NASA Mars mission now has a name — Perseverance. The path-breaking mission will land on Mars in early 2021, and will remain on the red planet for about one Mars year, or 687 Earth days. During this time, it will collect data that will attempt to identify traces of ancient life on Mars, test new technologies that may one day sustain life on Mars, and also collect the first rock samples that will be brought back to Earth from Mars. To take on these tasks, Perseverance has been earmarked for launch from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida between July 17 and August 5, and is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021.

The NASA Perseverance rover features many new technology breakthroughs made by the space agency in a bid to improve the rover's ability to navigate the Martian surface. Of many critical elements in the mission, the Mars 2020 mission will see Perseverance to attempt producing oxygen from the carbon dioxide-rich Martian atmosphere, or what remains of it. The rover also has a new, intelligent landing technology integrated in its computers, which will enable it to take photographs of the surface while landing, identify the topography of its terrain, compare it to pre-installed orbital maps, and divert its landing process if necessary.

Furthermore, Perseverance is enabled to capture the first audio samples from Mars, with multiple onboard microphones programmed to record the sound of the rover's descent to the surface, and also the workings of the rover. It will also undertake the first ever drilling procedure on Martian surface, procuring rocks from Mars and storing it in order to bring it back to Earth. To support all of these ventures, the Perseverance rover now gets a new set of wheels that come with a modified shape that maximises rover performance, offers better traction to help climb steeper slopes and are more durable on overall terms.

An illustration of all the scientific equipment that will be on-board NASA's Perseverance rover slated to land on Mars in February 2021. (Image: NASA)
The NASA Perseverance rover will be the first to bring back a chunk of Martian rock to Earth, and also record audio from the Martian surface.

Interestingly, NASA hosted a 'name the rover' contest for school students in USA, the prestige of which was won by Virginia-based seventh grade student Alexander Mather. Following the announcement of its official name, Twitter has been abuzz with anticipation of what the mission would bring to the table. NASA has been keeping busy of late, recently flagging off its latest recruitment drive for new astronauts as part of the Artemis generation of space missions.

The programme, which is slated to receive applications through March 31, aims to add to the present roster of 48 astronauts, and will include members who would represent mankind's return to the lunar surface for the first time since the much-romanticised Apollo moon missions of the 1970s. With missions to the moon and Mars scheduled through 2030, it is an exciting time for observers of space advancements, and answers that Perseverance can bring to the table.