Mars Perseverance Rover

The Perseverance Rover has just landed on Mars. Mr. Matthew Boccuti has been teaching an Astro-Biology class that touches on the Perseverance Rover Mission.

Patrick Smith, Contributor

The Perseverance Rover landed on Mars a couple of weeks ago. The rover has a couple of goals, but its biggest goal is to find signs of past life in the Jezzer Crater on Mars.

“The mission launched on July 30, 2020, and landed on February 18, 2021. Astrobiology is at the forefront of the goals, so it’s looking at a particular crater in a desert on Mars,” Boccuti said.

The crater that is being looked at is believed to have had water. This means that life could have once lived on Mars.  

“Earth has lakes that we would call crater lakes. The crater lake on Mars looks like the crater lakes on Earth. This seems like a place where Mars could have had water and therefore life,” Boccuti said.

Finding life on Mars will lead the human race to the next step in space exploration.

When looking for signs of life, any traces of water would lead to a major breakthrough in the search for life. Water could lead to very small bacteria that was developing in the water and it could lead to a larger organism that drank from the lake. 

“The goal is to go to the Jezzer Crater and search around and do some geology work. Determine areas of interest for future investigations for humans. Then do sample collections around the points of interest,” Boccuti said. 

Perseverance is jump-starting a long line of missions yet to come. It is setting up the objectives for the colonization of Mars.   

“There is a lot of land to investigate around the Jezzer Crater. Perseverance has a little drone that can scan the land. This drone is also the first powered flight on Mars. So it’s also a test to see if flights like this work,” Boccuti said. 

Perseverance has other goals than just the Jezzer Crater. It is running other tests to see what can be used on Mars, such as drones. The drones are helpful because they can be used to scout ahead and find other points of interest. 

Dr. Kevin Quinn teaches an engineering class at Malvern and helps to run the robotics team. He gave some great insight on the technology behind the Perseverance Rover. 

“There is an extensive amount of autonomous capability, meaning it can be programmed to go from this place to this place. Along the way, it can change its course if there is a rock in the way or something else,” Quinn said. 

A signal takes a couple of minutes to travel from Earth to Mars depending on their alignment in space. To control the robot from Earth is a challenge. The autonomous capability helps the mission move faster and more effectively.

“The duration for this mission is about two or three years,f NASA can be efficient with the movement and energy expenses of the rover. The radioactive batteries should be able to last longer than expected and do further research on Mars. The Curiosity Rover is in that mode right now,” Boccuti said.

Perseverance has a lot of work to do. It is the stepping stool for sending humans to Mars. With its research, we will be able to set up new missions to find more life on Mars and send humans there.