NASA launches Perseverance Rover to Mars to seek signs of ancient life

(Image credits: @NASA)

New Delhi (NVI): NASA’s Perseverance rover blasted off to Mars from Cape Canaveral in Florida atop an Atlas V rocket today to hunt for signs of life past or present on the Red Planet.

Beginning its six and a half month trip to the red planet, the rover is destined to land in Jezero crater on February 18, 2021. If all goes well, the rover will use a sophisticated suite of science instruments including 23 cameras to examine the planet’s climate and geology, after landing.

The six-wheeled rover is charged with investigating the Jezero Crater. The 45km (28-mile-long) crater is the site of an ancient lake bed that’s more than three billion years old.

It is the third mission heading to Mars this month after launches by the UAE and China.

Unlike the previous four rovers Nasa has sent to Mars, its new machine is equipped to directly detect life – either current or in fossilised form.

Perseverance will spend at least one Martian year (equivalent to roughly two Earth years) investigating the possibility.

The rover is armed with a host of scientific instruments, including two that are mounted on its robotic arm. PIXL and SHERLOC are two spectrometers, which analyse spectra (or light) to determine what types of chemical compounds are present.