River-like artifact in perseverance rover's photo of Mars

River-like artifact in perseverance rover's photo of Mars

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Good to know that perseverance rover has touched the surface of Mars finally. We will have nice new opportunity window for exploring our closest "friendly" planet of solar system. Here's one of Mars photos perseverance has made :

Question is, What are this object roots marked with rose color ? I suspect it can be remains of past river in Mars or is it just an artifact of wind+sierra effect ?

The image in question appears to come down from the rover "down-look" camera. Here is a raw image of that, while this is a raw image taken next to it (you can line up the crater part in the left of the first with the main crater in the second).

While both list Sol 4 as the acquisition date, they list Feb. 23 and Feb. 24 as the Earth dates, while local time is separated by just 14-15 minutes. Despite those dates, which seem pretty incompatible to me, I have a feeling that that's when the images were downlinked to Earth from the rover. The "down-look" camera is "mounted beneath the rover, looking downward at the surface during landing." And, those do not look like images of the surface to me that I would expect if you were just a few inches away, instead they look like meter-scale pixels, not millimeter-scale pixels. So, I think these were images taken while it was landing, a few minutes apart.

Given that premise, I looked at a close-up of the HiRISE image of the landing site, which is nominally 25 cm/pix, and that crater in the second image matches the crater in the HiRISE image on the left, just rotated about 90° clockwise. So, this was a descent image, not an image from the surface.

With that knowledge, those are sand ripples, which are basically small dunes. These are all over Mars, so it's nothing unusual and does not have anything to do with it being near or in a lakebed, but just have to do with the wind and particle size of the martian regolith.

Linux Is Now on Mars, Thanks to NASA's Perseverance Rover

Previous NASA Mars rovers mostly used an operating system from Wind River Systems. But this time, the space agency chose Linux for Perseverance's Ingenuity helicopter drone.

When NASA&rsquos Perseverance rover landed on Mars this week, it also brought the Linux operating system to the Red Planet.

The tidbit was mentioned in an interview NASA software engineer Tim Canham gave to IEEE Spectrum. The helicopter-like drone on board the Perseverance rover uses a Linux-powered software framework the space agency open-sourced a few years ago. &ldquoThis the first time we&rsquoll be flying Linux on Mars. We&rsquore actually running on a Linux operating system,&rdquo Canham said.

It also might be the first time NASA has brought a Linux-based device to Mars. &ldquoThere isn&rsquot a previous use of Linux that I&rsquom aware of, definitely on the previous rovers,&rdquo Canham told PCMag in an email.

Past Mars rovers have used proprietary OSes, largely from the software company Wind River Systems. The same is true for the Perseverance rover itself the machine has been installed with Wind River&rsquos VxWorks, which was used on past Mars missions.

However, NASA settled on the Linux OS for the rover&rsquos helicopter-like drone, Ingenuity, which was built using off-the-shelf parts, including Qualcomm&rsquos Snapdragon 801 processor, a smartphone chip.

NASA's Perseverance Rover posts stunning panoramic photo of Mars

The NASA shared a magnificent panoramic photo of Mars taken from its Perseverance Rover that landed on the red planet recently. The photo shows the rim of the Jezero Crater where the rover touched down last week and the cliff face of an ancient river delta in the distance.

New Delhi: The NASA shared a magnificent panoramic photo of Mars taken from its Perseverance Rover that landed on the red planet recently. The photo shows the rim of the Jezero Crater where the rover touched down last week and the cliff face of an ancient river delta in the distance.

It took 142 individual images to put together the panaroma image which was taken on Sol 3, the third Martian day of the NASA mission.

"I’m taking it all in. This is the first 360º view of my home using Mastcam-Z. This dual, high-definition camera system sits atop my mast and has zoom capability," NASA wrote on Twitter.

I’m taking it all in. This is the first 360º view of my home using Mastcam-Z. This dual, high-definition camera system sits atop my mast and has zoom capability. Inspect tiny details of Jezero Crater with the special interactive viewer at #CountdownToMars

— NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) February 24, 2021

According to NASA's website, the rover's navigation cameras or Navcams are "a dual-camera system equipped with a zoom function, allowing the cameras to zoom in, focus, and take high-definition video, as well as panoramic color and 3D images of the Martian surface. With this capability, the robotic astrobiologist can provide a detailed examination of both close and distant objects."

The US space agency feels that the cameras will help scientists assess the geologic history and atmospheric conditions of Jezero Crater and will assist in identifying rocks and sediment worthy of a closer look by the rover’s other instruments.

The Perseverance rover is on a mission to search for signs of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.

The rover's first color images show rocks with holes

Perseverance will spend the next few weeks checking its systems, then it will initiate the first flight of an interplanetary helicopter — that vehicle is stored in the rover's belly. Mission managers expect the rover to start collecting rock samples in the summer.

But already, the first color images from Perseverance's science cameras have scientists buzzing.

"As soon as we got that color image from the surface of Mars, our chats just lit up with the science team saying 'look over here and look over here,'" Stack Morgan said.

Mission managers think that in the image above, the 200-foot cliffs of the ancient river delta are peeking out on the horizon.

The image below shows some very holey rocks. Holes like that often appear in volcanic rocks, created by volcanic gases pushing through the rock. They can also show up in sedimentary rocks (like from the bottom of a lake), since liquid has tunneled through the rock.

"Depending on what the origin of these rocks is, these holes could mean different things. So we're excited to follow up on that and find out really what's going on here," Stack Morgan said.

Nasa explains strange ‘rainbow’ that appeared on picture from Mars Perseverance rover

Nasa have explained an image from the Perseverance rover that appeared to show a rainbow stretching across the red planet’s sky.

The image appeared strangely akin to one that might be taken from Earth: a rainbow rising from the ground and ascending up into the air, contrasted against the harsh yellow of the rest of the image.

But a real rainbow is impossible on Mars, as the planet does not have the processes that create such a phenomenon on Earth.

Instead, the sight was explained by something much closer to home, at least for the Perseverance rover that took it: a lens flare as the sun hit the rover’s cameras.

The new image is one of many already sent back from Perseverance since it arrived on the planet earlier this year .

“Many have asked: Is that a rainbow on Mars? No,” the space agency said in a post on the official Perseverance Twitter account.

“Rainbows aren’t possible here. Rainbows are created by light reflected off of round water droplets, but there isn’t enough water here to condense, and it’s too cold for liquid water in the atmosphere. This arc is a lens flare.”

It went on to explain that the colours were the result of a flare that came from the cameras that are mounted on the rover, and took the image in the first place.

“I have sunshades on my front Hazcams, which were considered mission-critical (I need them for driving forward & I’m usually driving forward),” the official Twitter account posted. “Sunshades weren’t considered essential on my back Hazcams, so you can see scattered light artifacts in their images.”

The uncanny nature of the Martian surface – which often appears unusually similar to our own world, but at the same time undeniably alien – has led people to see a number of things that aren’t actually there.

People often spot what appear to be things like faces and even coffins on the surface of the red planet, and those sightings are often seized upon by conspiracy theorists who suggest they are proof that Nasa – or somebody else – is hiding the truth of what is happening on Mars. But the unusual artefacts are instead the result of a phenomenon called “pareidolia”, where people see significant objects or patterns in things that don’t actually have them.

Raw Images from the Mars Perseverance Rover

Latency is about 12 minutes thanks to the speed of light. There might be additional lag of minutes to hours depending on which satellite is being used to relay the images back to earth. Actual transmission time will vary by the size of the image. The rover can talk to the relay satellites at about 2Mbps when they are in the sky, but the direct-to-earth link tops out at 0.16-0.8kbps, depending on which dishes are available on earth to receive the signal.

In addition to that I think JPL holds back images for 24 hours before releasing them to the public. Not sure though.

I read that it's around twelve minutes.

Will there be higher quality images at some point?

Oh definitely. Take a look at the link below, and those photos are from the previous generation rover, Curiosity:

There will be HD video with audio of the landing, sounds like they'll get a low res "thumbnail video" in a few days.

This thing has some very good cameras, they put in some for what can only be described as PR reasons (basically, they integrated some GoPro like camera that's of no scientific value because it's a good PR move and they had room to fit all the scientific cameras they needed). And I think it's a great move, it gets voters interested and get them more funding for new stuff.

Mars helicopter Ingenuity carries piece of Wright brothers' famous plane

The first-ever Mars helicopter carried a little piece of aviation history to the Red Planet.

A tiny piece of the Wright brothers' history-making plane will take to the skies on Mars a few weeks from now, if all goes according to plan.

NASA's Mars Helicopter Ingenuity, which could lift off on the Red Planet as soon as April 8, bears a tiny swatch of fabric from one wing of Flyer 1, the plane that in December 1903 made the first powered flights on Earth, agency officials announced Tuesday (March 23).

The Wright brothers ushered in "aerial mobility as a dimension for us to be able to travel here on Earth," Bob Balaram, Ingenuity chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, said during a news conference Tuesday. "In the same way, we are hoping that Ingenuity also allows us to expand and open up aerial mobility on Mars."

The Flyer 1 swatch, which is about the size of a postage stamp, is attached to a small cable beneath Ingenuity's solar panel, Balaram added.

Ingenuity traveled to Mars with NASA's car-sized Perseverance rover, which touched down inside the 28-mile-wide (45 kilometers) Jezero Crater on Feb. 18. Perseverance's main jobs are to hunt for signs of ancient life inside Jezero, which hosted a big lake and a river delta billions of years ago, and to collect and cache dozens of samples for future return to Earth. But the rover's first big task is to help get the technology-demonstrating Ingenuity off the ground, and (if possible) to document the 4-lb. (1.8 kilograms) chopper's flights for posterity.

The Ingenuity team aims to make five short flights during a monthlong window, which will open when Perseverance deploys the helicopter from its belly onto the red dirt. That deployment will be a long and involved process that takes about six Earth days to complete, mission team members said during Tuesday's press conference.

If Ingenuity's flights are successful, aerial exploration could be a common feature of Mars missions in the coming years. Helicopters could scout terrain for rovers and gather data on their own, especially in hard-to-reach places, NASA officials have said. (Ingenuity doesn't carry any scientific instruments, though it does sport two cameras.)

Other alien skies will soon host flying robots as well. NASA is developing a mission called Dragonfly, which will send a big, instrument-laden drone to Saturn's biggest moon, Titan. Dragonfly is scheduled to launch in 2027 and land on Titan in 2036.

"The future of powered flight in space exploration is solid and strong," Bobby Braun, director for planetary science at JPL, said during Tuesday's news conference.

Ingenuity isn't the first pioneering NASA craft to carry a piece of Flyer 1 beyond Earth.

"A different piece of the [fabric] material, along with a small splinter of wood, from the Flyer 1 was flown to the moon and back aboard Apollo 11," NASA officials wrote in a statement.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018 illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.

NASA's Perseverance Rover Will Peer Beneath Mars' Surface

RIMFAX at Work on NASA's Perseverance (Illustration): Perseverance's Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX) uses radar waves to probe the ground, revealing the unexplored world that lies beneath the Martian surface. Full image and caption &rsaquo

The agency's newest rover will use the first ground-penetrating radar instrument on the Martian surface to help search for signs of past microbial life.

After touching down on the Red Planet Feb. 18, 2021, NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover will scour Jezero Crater to help us understand its geologic history and search for signs of past microbial life. But the six-wheeled robot won't be looking just at the surface of Mars: The rover will peer deep below it with a ground-penetrating radar called RIMFAX.

Unlike similar instruments aboard Mars orbiters, which study the planet from space, RIMFAX will be the first ground-penetrating radar set on the surface of Mars. This will give scientists much higher-resolution data than space-borne radars can provide while focusing on the specific areas that Perseverance will explore. Taking a more focused look at this terrain will help the rover's team understand how features in Jezero Crater formed over time.

Short for Radar Imager for Mars' Subsurface Experiment, RIMFAX can provide a highly detailed view of subsurface structures down to at least 30 feet (10 meters) underground. In doing so, the instrument will reveal hidden layers of geology and help find clues to past environments on Mars, especially those that may have provided the conditions necessary for supporting life.

Testing RIMFAX for NASA's Perseverance Rover: A test model of the RIMFAX instrument &ndash aboard the trailer behind the snow mobile &ndash undergoes field testing in Svalbard, Norway. Full image and caption &rsaquo

"We take an image of the subsurface directly beneath the rover," said Svein-Erik Hamran, the instrument's principal investigator, with the University of Oslo in Norway. "We can do a 3D model of the subsurface &ndash of the different layers &ndash and determine the geological structures underneath."

While Mars is a frigid desert today, scientists suspect that microbes may have lived in Jezero during wetter times billions of years ago and that evidence of such ancient life may be preserved in sediments in the crater. Information from RIMFAX will help pinpoint areas for deeper study by instruments on the rover that search for chemical, mineral, and textural clues found within rocks that may be signs of past microbial life. Ultimately, the team will collect dozens of drill-core samples with Perseverance, seal them in tubes that will be deposited on the surface for return to Earth by future missions. That way, these first samples from another planet can be studied in laboratories with equipment too large to take to Mars.

Traveling Back in Time

Scientists believe the 28-mile-wide (45-kilometer-wide) Jezero Crater formed when a large object collided with Mars, kicking up rocks from deep in the planet's crust. More than 3.5 billion years ago, river channels spilled into the crater, creating a lake that was home to a fan-shaped river delta.

Hamran hopes RIMFAX will shed light on how the delta formed. "This is not so easy, based on surface images only, because you have this dust covering everything, so you may not necessarily see all the changes in geology."

RIMFAX Location on NASA's Perseverance Rover (Illustration): Highlighted in blue in this visualization, the RIMFAX instrument's antenna is externally mounted underneath the MMRTG (the rover&rsquos nuclear battery) on the back of Perseverance. With the interactive tool Learn About Perseverance , you can get a closer look at Perseverance and its many features. Full image and caption &rsaquo

He and his science team will stack successive radar soundings to create a two-dimensional subsurface image of the crater floor. Eventually, data will be combined with images from a camera on the rover to create a 3D topographical image.

The instrument employs the same type of ground-penetrating radar used here on Earth to find buried utilities, underground caverns, and the like. In fact, Hamran uses it to study glaciers. Tens of millions of miles away on Mars, however, he and his colleagues will be relying on Perseverance to do the work as it roams through Jezero Crater. "We do some measurements while we are stationary," he said, "but most measurements will actually be gathered while the rover is driving."

More About the Mission

A key objective for Perseverance's mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet's ancient climate and geology, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with ESA (the European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance and Curiosity rovers.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter camera spots Perseverance rover after landing

A high-resolution camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted the Perseverance rover after landing on the Red Planet last month, showing the nuclear-powered robot sitting on the Martian surface with its supersonic parachute and other landing system components scattered nearby.

MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE, camera captured views the Perseverance rover at Jezero Crater on multiple passes over the landing site after the craft’s arrival at the Red Planet on Feb. 18. An image from HiRISE taken Feb. 24 shows the rover and its surroundings in false-color, with scars on the Martian surface carved by Perseverance’s retrorockets just before touchdown.

The HiRISE instrument is the most powerful camera ever sent to another planet. Developed at the University of Arizona, the camera has a telescope and is used to map the Martian surface, study the planet’s geology, and scout landing sites for future missions.

MRO captured the Feb. 24 image of Perseverance from a distance of about 180 miles (290 kilometers) away, according to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The rover measures about 10 feet by 9 feet (3 by 2.7 meters) in size.

The Mars orbiter also caught a glimpse of the rover’s parachute a couple of miles to the northwest of Perseverance’s landing site. The parachute deployed after the rover entered the atmosphere and slowed the spacecraft to subsonic speed. That was followed by jettison of the spacecraft’s heat shield, which plummeted to the Martian surface. Its wreckage was located to the east of the rover’s landing site.

About a minute before touchdown, the parachute and the top part of the rover’s aeroshell, called the backshell, separated and a rocket-powered jetpack guided Perseverance the rest of the way to the surface. Eight variable-thrust rocket engines took out the rest of the rover’s vertical velocity, and the robot lowered under the descent stage on three nylon bridles.

Perseverance touched down on its six wheels, and the descent stage cut its connection to the rover and flew to the northwest in a divert maneuver to escape to a safe distance away from the rover. The descent stage’s impact site is also visible in MRO’s HiRISE imagery.

Perseverance is on a $2.7 billion mission to study whether the Jezero Crater site, which once harbored a lake of liquid water, was ever habitable for ancient Martian life forms. The rover landed near sediments deposited by a dried-up river that fed into the lake at Jezero, and scientists plan to drive Perseverance onto the delta deposits to collect rock samples for eventual return to Earth.

The one-ton Mars rover also carries instruments to track Martian weather, measure the composition of rocks, and has the first microphone and zoom-capable camera to fly to the Red Planet.

Perseverance also has an instrument to demonstrate the production of oxygen from carbon dioxide in Mars’s atmosphere, a capability that could help future human space travelers.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

Cosmology & Space Research Institute

A technician working on the Mars 2020 mission takes a sample from the surface of sample tube 241 – to test for contamination. The image was taken in a clean room facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where the tubes were developed and assembled. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

By DC Agle
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Grey Hautaluoma / Alana Johnson
NASA Headquarters, Washington

Marvels of engineering, the rover’s sample tubes must be tough enough to safely bring Red Planet samples on the long journey back to Earth in immaculate condition.

The tubes carried in the belly of NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover are destined to carry the first samples in history from another planet back to Earth. Future scientists will use these carefully selected representatives of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) to look for evidence of potential microbial life present in Mars’ ancient past and to answer other key questions about Mars and its history. Perseverance will land at Mars’ Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, 2021.

About the size and shape of a standard lab test tube, the 43 sample tubes headed to Mars must be lightweight and hardy enough to survive the demands of the round trip, and so clean that future scientists will be confident that what they’re analyzing is 100% Mars.

“Compared to Mars, Earth is filled with evidence of the life that covers our planet,” said Ken Farley, the Mars 2020 project scientist at Caltech in Pasadena. “We needed to remove those signs so thoroughly that any scant evidence remaining can be confidently detected and differentiated when these first samples are returned.”

Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong works with an Apollo Lunar Sample Return Container during a lunar surface simulation training exercise in Building 9, Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. Image credit: NASA

The practice of engineering containers to ferry samples from other worlds goes back to Apollo 11. When Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Buzz Aldrin returned to Earth with 47.7 pounds (21.8 kilograms) of samples from the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility in 1969, they carried them in two triple-sealed, briefcase-size aluminum boxes. But Apollo’s rock boxes needed to keep their cargo pristine only for about 10 days – from the lunar surface to splashdown – before being whisked off to the Lunar Receiving Laboratory. Perseverance’s sample tubes must isolate and preserve the scientific value of their contents for well over 10 years.

Mars Sample Return
As NASA’s newest rover investigates Jezero Crater, mission scientists will determine when and where it will drill for samples. This precious Martian cargo will be packaged in those tubes with the most intricate and technologically advanced mechanism ever sent into space: the Sample Caching System. After the samples have been deposited on the Martian surface, two other missions being formulated by NASA in partnership with ESA (the European Space Agency) will complete the relay to get them back to Earth.

The second mission in this sample return campaign will send a “fetch” rover to retrieve the hermetically-sealed tubes and deliver them to a special sample return containerinside the Mars Ascent Vehicle. The Mars 2020 Perseverance rover could also deliver tubes with samples to the vicinity of the Mars Ascent Vehicle if it remains healthy well into an extended mission. The Mars Ascent Vehicle will then launch the tubes into orbit.

The final mission will fly an orbiter to Mars to rendezvous with the encapsulated samples, capture them in a highly secure containment capsule, and ferry them back to Earth (as early as 2031).

A tray holding 39 sample tubes – each protected in a gold-colored sheath – is installed in NASA’s Perseverance rover in this picture taken at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center on May 21, 2020. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/KSC

Robust Containers
Made chiefly of titanium, each sample tube weighs less than 2 ounces (57 grams). A white exterior coating guards against heating by the Sun potentially changing the chemical composition of the samples after Perseverance deposits the tubes on the surface of Mars. Laser-etched serial numbers on the exterior will help the team identify the tubes and their contents.

Each tube must fit within the tight tolerances not only of Perseverance’s Sample Caching System, but those of the future missions.

“They are less than 6 inches [15.2 centimeters] long, but we still found over 60 different dimensions to scrutinize,” said Sample Tube Cognizant Engineer Pavlina Karafillis of JPL. “Because of the intricacies of all the complex mechanisms they will pass through during the Mars Sample Return campaign, if any measurement was off by about the thickness of a human hair, the tube was deemed not suitable for flight.”

100% Pure Jezero
Precision engineering is only part of the challenge. The tubes are also the product of extreme cleanliness standards. All of NASA’s planetary missions involve exacting processes to prevent the introduction of Earthly organic, inorganic, and biological material. But since these tubes could hold proof that life once existed elsewhere in the universe, the Mars 2020 team needed to reduce – even further – the possibility that they could host Earthly artifacts that could complicate the scientific process. The mandate was essentially that nothing should be in a tube until the Sample Caching System begins filling it with 9 cubic inches (147 cubic centimeters) of Jezero Crater (about the size of a piece of chalk).

This animation shows the data collected on a Mars 2020 sample tube using a computerized tomography (CT) scanner. Engineers working on the sample tubes used the 3D imagery to better understand the tubes’ internal structure. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

“And when they said ‘nothing,’ they meant it,” said Ian Clark, the mission’s assistant project systems engineer for sample tube cleanliness at JPL. “An example: To achieve the kind of science the mission is going after, we needed to limit the total amount of Earth-based organic compounds in a given sample to less than 150 nanograms. For a set of particular organic compounds – ones that are very indicative of life – we were limited to less than 15 nanograms in a sample.”

A nanogram is a billionth of a gram. An average thumbprint carries about 45,000 nanograms of organics – about 300 times the total allowed in a sample tube. To meet such stringent mission specifications, the team had to rewrite the book on cleaning.

“We did all our assembly in a hyper-clean-room environment, which is essentially a clean room inside a clean room,” said Clark. “Between assembly steps, the sample tubes would be cleaned with filtered air blasts, rinsed with deionized water, and sonically cleaned with acetone, isopropyl alcohol, and other exotic cleaning agents.”

After each cleaning, the team would measure contaminants and bake the tubes for good measure. By the time the 43 sample tubes were selected from a field of 93 fabricated for flight, each had generated over 250 pages of documentation and 3 gigabytes of images and videos.

Of the tubes aboard Perseverance, up to 38 are destined to be filled with Martian rock and regolith. The other five are “witness tubes” that have been loaded with materials geared to capture molecular and particulate contaminants. They’ll be opened one at a time on Mars to witness the ambient environment primarily near sample collection sites, cataloging any Earthly impurities or contaminants from the spacecraft that may be present during sample collection.

The the sample and witness tubes’ eventual return to and examination on Earth will allow the full breadth of terrestrial science laboratory capabilities to investigate the samples, using instruments too large and complex to send to Mars.

More About the Mission
A key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent missions, currently under consideration by NASA in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these cached samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 mission is part of a larger program that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis lunar exploration plans.

JPL, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.