It is a very good news for all the people who are into space and cosmology as NASA lands the Perseverance rover on Mars and with it, there is a helicopter named Ingenuity strapped to the belly of the rover. This is one of the very first steps to bring some of the samples of Martian rock to our earth.
The crazy thing is that NASA’s Mars 2020 is the third mission that has arrived at Mars in the spectrum of the last 10 days. The Perseverance rover is the USA’s largest Mars rover and it is also carrying the first-ever helicopter for Mars.
Nasa Lands Perseverance Rover on Mars: All You Need to Know
The Perseverance Rover: Landing
The whole landing sequence was termed as the “show” by NASA and it began late morning Pacific Time(early evening in Central Europe). This was all two hours before the latest rover by the US, the Perseverance rover touched down the surface of Mars which was at 20:56 UTC.
The landing process was quite technical as the rover started to descent at a speed of about 20,000 kilometers per hour. After that, a parachute and a power descent mechanism slowed the rover and brought it around the speed of 3 kilometers per hour. After that, a large sky crane lowered itself on three bridle cords down to the surface of Mars, and then it touched down the surface of Mars on its six wheels.
To pick up the landing spot, scientists at NASA selected the famous landing site called Jezero Crater which is just north of the Martian equator, the region is called Isidis Planitia.
This is the region that is well-explored and known to the American Landers, including the Curiosity rover which is still active and it is about 3,700 kilometers away at Gale Crater.
There is also another region called Utopia Planitia which isn’t far away, relatively speaking and it is the place where China is planning to land its first Mars rover somewhere around May.
NASA Mars 2020 and Other Missions
Along with NASA’s Mars 2020, there were two other Mars missions as well that launched in July 2020. There is the Emirates Mars and China’s Tianwen-1.
The other two missions apart from the NASA Mars 2020 have the main goal of just the spacecraft orbiting around Mars. However, China’s Tianwen-1 will also attempt to land a rover on Mars somewhere around May.
Aim With The Perseverance Rover
You see, the USA is the most experienced when it comes to the area of Mars explorations and now they have landed their biggest Mars rover. Perseverance will search for water and other signs of life below the surface of the planet.
The Perseverance rover on Mars will also collect rock and soil samples and then drop them into canisters. As of now, it is planned that these samples will be collected by joint US and European missions and they will be brought back to earth within the next 10 years.
Role of the Helicopter
As mentioned earlier, NASA has also landed a helicopter called the Ingenuity that is attached to the belly of the rover. The main aim to land this helicopter is purely experimental as the scientists will use this experimental device to learn about take-offs and flying experiences in a different atmosphere like that of Mars.
This has a lot of significance as the atmosphere on Mars is far thinner than that of the atmosphere on Earth and this can affect the flight by factors like the amount of power, lift needed, rotation speed of the helicopter blade.
At this stage, it is quite irrelevant whether this works or not. As NASA describes it, no matter what happens it will be the first time any spacefaring nation will have tested flight “on another world”. This is quite unique and fascinating in its own way.
Collaborations and Future of Such Missions
The Emirate Mars Mission was the first of the three Mars missions to arrive at Mars by entering the planet’s orbit on February 9, 2021. The mission involves a satellite called Hope. The satellite will run tests at various altitudes for the next two years and aims to provide the whole world with a first complete picture of the Martian atmosphere.
UAE is also aiming to become a knowledge-based economy and it has formed a bunch of collaborations with USA-based universities and other universities that will help achieving UAE this goal.
China’s Tianwen-1 orbiter also entered the Martian orbit on February 10, 2021, and the main aim of the mission is to explore the Martian atmosphere and it is all set to land a rover on Mars in three months. And China will also be searching for life with its rover pretty much like the Perseverance rover.
With so much happening, a lot of countries and organizations have shown their interest in working with China on its space exploration missions. This also opens a probability of a new space race with China as one of the main competitors while everyone else on the other side.
There are a lot of countries that are exploring outer space like India and Israel. Recently, Turkey has also announced its new space program.
Any success in space is a success for humankind no matter how the knowledge and spoils are shared, it is good for everyone. As NASA points out that only 40% of the missions sent to Mars have been successful. That is why any success in these missions adds up for a greater cause. With the Perseverance Rover on Mars, we hope to find something exciting.
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