New Delhi | Jagran Tech Desk: NASA launched its Mars Perseverance Rover on July 30 at 17:20 IST from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on Thursday. The next-generation vehicle aims to trace potential signs of ancient life and collect Martian rock samples for a possible return to Earth. It will also deliver the first interplanetary helicopter and try out equipment for future human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. It is expected to reach Mars next February after covering a distance of 300 million miles (482.8 million kms approximately). The landing location of the vehicle will be the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet

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. The state from which the rover was launched, Florida, is currently one of the hot spots in the United States for the coronavirus pandemic.

Aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter named Ingenuity that is 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, among other discoveries. NASA also has successfully sent three landers - Pathfinder, Phoenix, InSight.

(with inputs from reuters)

Posted By: Rakesh Kumar Jha