United States Alliance Atlas nuclear-powered rocket NASAhe growled to life and rose from Cape Canaveral early Thursday, the first step in a ten-year program to look for signs of past microbial life and to collect rock and soil samples for a possible return to Earth.
The journey to Mars will take seven months for $ 2.4 billion. When it arrives in February, it descends to the bottom of a 28-kilometer-wide crater near the remnants of an old river delta and lake sediments, where traces of biological activity in the past could be preserved.
Along with the collection of samples to be obtained later using a European vehicle, the perseverance persists;. It will test a technology that astronauts can one day use to live offshore by extracting oxygen from a thin carbon dioxide atmosphere. which will be able to hover above the surface on Mars for the first moment of the “Wright brothers”
Perseverance is the third spacecraft on Mars launched in the last two weeks after the spacecraft it launchedand It is also the most ambitious and builds on the success of eight previous landings on Mars.
This is NASA’s first mission, specifically designed to look for signs of life in another world.
“We do transformation science,” said Matt Wallace, deputy project manager at Jet Propulsion Laboratory. “For the first time, we are looking for signs of life on another planet. And for the first time, we will collect samples that will be part of it, hoping that the first sample will return from another planet. There are many more championships along the way. ‘ “
After months of careful assembly and testing with coronavirus work restrictions, the long-awaited mission finally launched at 7:50 p.m. EDT, when the first stage of the Russian RD-180 engine ignited with the Atlas 5 RD-180 engine and four solids strap amplifiers, creating a combined thrust of £ 2.3 million.
The 197-foot-tall rocket and its payload tilted the weights to about 1.2 million pounds, and the excess lift force resulted in a faster-than-usual climb from the launch of complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Atlas 5 traveled faster than sound in just 35 seconds, four minutes later, when the RD-180 turned off and the first stage dropped, the vehicle was more than 300 kilometers from the starting point, almost 100 kilometers up and moving at a speed of more than 13,400 km / h.
At that moment, they took over the powerful hydrogen-powered second phase of the Centaur, which continued to ascend into space with the Aerojet Rocketdyne RL10C-1 engine. Two centaurs were required to increase the performance of the endurance rover and its planetary cruise level to an Earth escape velocity of about 26,000 km / h.
Centaur’s flight computer has been programmed to release the rover and cruise phases on a precise trajectory to a point in space 292 million miles away, where Mars will be next February.
The rover’s descent to the surface, famously described as “seven minutes of terror,” begins when it plunges into the Martian atmosphere at speeds of more than 12,000 mph, with its heat shield taking temperatures up to 2,370 degrees in front of its rocket-powered “celestial crane.” The jet pack launches it to the surface at the end of the rope.
The landing site, Lake Jezera, is equipped with an ancient river canal cutting through one edge and a clearly visible delta branching through the crater floor. The river that once flowed, about 3 to 4 billion years ago, filled a basin the size of Lake Tahoe.
“Delta is where you get the deposition of a very fine grain (material), basically mud,” said project scientist Ken Farley. “So the mud enters, gets down the river, hits the weak water of the lake and the mud settles.
“The beauty of this is that everything that happens along the river that could have been alive, or things that lived in the lake, are buried in this very favorable environment. So we know that we have a living environment with a high potential for protection. ‘ “
Perseverance, named after the seventh Virgin comparator after the national competition, is equipped with a comprehensive system of sampling and packaging. As the mission progresses, the drill at the end of the robot arm will collect core samples, which will be sealed in small ultrapure tubes and stored in precise locations.
The long-distance plan requires NASA’s landing to provide a European Space Agency vehicle for sampling. The rover returns to landing, loading samples into a NASA-supplied rocket that launches a sample container into Mars orbit. The European spacecraft will then capture the container and bring it back to Earth in 2031.
“If it sounds complicated, it is,” said Lori Glaze, director of planetary science at NASA headquarters. “However, NASA’s investment in the development of autonomous robots and the unloading of heavy payloads on Mars have laid the foundations for a successful sample return campaign.”