This morning at 7:50 am the ULA Atlas V rocket with the Perseverance rover lifted off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The new rover, which is the younger brother to Curiosity, which was launched in 2011, holds several experiments that will be key to future human exploration of our neighbor.
First the first time, we will be treated to not just high-quality photos of the red planet but also audio which will be something space-nerds like myself would love to hear. If we are to put humans on Mars then we should be prepared for not just the sights we might see but the sounds we may hear. But one of the most important things that Perseverance will bring to Mars is samples of spacesuit materials. Unlike Earth, Mars does not have a magnetic field and any humans who travel to the planet will be exposed to the deadly radiation that is produced by our sun. For humans to live and work on the planet we will need to find out what materials will help protect the brave men and women to make the trip.
The experiment that I am most looking forward to is another important one for the future of human exploration of Mars. That is MOXIE, the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment. This will test our ability to use the resources that are found on the planet to create oxygen to breathe and to use as fuel for our ships.
If you are interested in learning more about all of the instruments that are on the rover, I suggest you check out NASA Science’s Perseverance website, they have a lot of great information in detail on each instrument.