What it Took to Get Perseverance to Mars.


via IEEE Spectrum

Perserverance Rover

Advance space exploration has been on the minds of many people throughout generations. On July 20, 1969, the first human-piloted spacecraft landed on the moon, making history. Ever since then, NASA has been doing everything they can to figure out more about space. Although humans have made significant progress, there are some things that we humans cannot do yet. One of these things is getting a human to land successfully on Mars and come back. Although people cannot go to Mars, they can send rovers to patrol and send back information on the planet. Since 1997 5 rovers have been sent to Mars, and they have brought back many pieces of information that weren’t previously available. Rovers are very useful and will continue to be used until NASA figures out how to get a person on Mars.

The most recent rover sent to the red planet is Perseverance. Perseverance was first launched into space on July 30, 2020, with the purpose of looking for signs of past or present life, seeing if humans could one day explore Mars, and collecting samples of rock and regolith (broken rock and soil) to bring to Earth. Perseverance landed on Mars on February 18, 2021, and has been fulfilling its mission for seven sols:10 hours:31 minutes. Perseverance is the first rover to capture the sights and sounds of a landing on Mars due to the several mics and cameras built-in. The rover’s first job is to establish an antenna to get direct communication to Earth. After this, the engineers will check up on the rover’s status then upload the software. On day 4, Perseverance will drive five meters away to inspect some nearby rocks. NASA says the earliest they will receive any samples from Perseverance is 2031.

Although the work Perseverance is doing is making history, it took a lot to get it to Mars. Perseverance is NASA’s most advanced astrobiology laboratory sent to another planet. Being the most advanced means its cost to make is very expensive. NASA expects to spend 2.9 billion over Perseverance’s life cycle. 2.2 billion of this was spent on the rover’s construction and design. Although Perseverance is very costly, it is only the 7th most expensive spacecraft in the history of NASA’s planetary exploration program. Perseverance’s landing was very challenging and the most nerve-racking part of the trip. It was landing in Jezero, a valley full of steep cliffs, large boulders, and treacherous sand dunes. Luckily it landed safely because the engineers at JPL developed hazard-avoidance techniques to ensure Perseverance lands safely. It is a guarantee that Perseverance will do good work while on Mars.