Science

NASA set to launch Mars Perseverance rover

NASA set to launch Mars Perseverance rover”

NASA's Mars rover Perseverance has blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on a $US2.4 billion ($A3.4 billion) mission to search for traces of potential past life on the planet.

This was the third launch from Earth to Mars this month, following probes sent by the United Arab Emirates and China.

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It soared into the sky from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:50am EDT (1150 GMT) under clear, sunny and warm conditions, carried by an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed joint venture United Launch Alliance.

JPL mission controllers established their first communication signal with the spacecraft some 90 minutes after lift-off, prompting applause and cheers in the California control room.

With more than one million name submissions, the Philippines has emerged as the leading country with the most number of signups for the "Send Your Name to Mars" program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

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"As the spacecraft entered into Earth's shadow, the Sun was temporarily blocked by Earth, and the outlet temperature dropped", said Wallace.

When a vessel enters safe mode, it shuts down all but essential system until it receives new commands from mission control. "Perseverance is going to make discoveries that cause us to rethink our questions about what Mars was like and how we understand it today". "Scientists have wanted a sample of Mars to study for generations". And given the difficulty of this multi-pronged return journey of the samples, they won't land on Earth until 2031, at the earliest.

While most of Perseverance's seven instruments are geared toward learning more about the planet's geology and astrobiology, the MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) instrument's job is focused on missions yet to come. Perseverance also has a helicopter testing the possibility of flight on Mars, which has far less atmospheric pressure than Earth. Over 31 Earth days, the helicopter will undertake up to five flights on Mars. "Next stop, Jezero Crater".

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of America's larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA aims to establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through the agency's Artemis programme.



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