Mars Mission by NASA :
What is Mars Mission 2020?
It’s part of the colossal ‘Mars Exploration Program’ by NASA aimed to study and explore the Mars geology, examine the possible ancient life on Mars, to test the robotic technology for future human explorations, and to bring back the soil and rock samples to Earth.
But this isn’t just a single-launch program but constitutes of multiple-launch missions. These multiple interplanetary missions for a single program will be the 1st of its kind attempt in the world.
Jim Watzin, head of NASA’s Mars exploration program said, “This is by no means a simple task. But we have kept it as simple as possible.”
What is the purpose of Mars Mission 2020?
This will be the 1st stage of the sample-retrieval mission from Mars. The mission will have NASA’s Perseverance rover roam the surface of Mars to study the planet’s surface conditions, possible ancient martian life and to test the latest technology for future human explorations.
Its main purpose is to collect the soil and rock samples using the advanced drilling system onboard the rover. The extracted sample will safely be stored in around 30 geological sampling tubes.
When is it scheduled…?
The launch of the 1st stage of the Mars exploration program is scheduled between July 17 – August 5th, 2020.
Rover Perseverance along with Mars Helicopter (this copter tech demonstration is to test the 1st powered flight on the Red planet) will set its space-voyage aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 Rocket that will lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
Image credit: Mars 2020 Rover (NASA/JPL-Caltech)
The 1st touch down of this Mars mission will be on February 18, 2021, in the Jezero Crater’s region which is believed to be an ancient river delta that might hint about the ancient Martian life.
How will the Mars exploration program work?
Even though NASA and ESA have finalized a plot to send unmanned spacecraft to Mars in 2026 under the Mars mission, neither of these space organizations have officially confirmed the plan.
But according to a report, after the successful collection of samples by ‘Perseverance rover,’ the 1st spacecraft would land near the rover, deploy a small rover to get the sample tubes from Perseverance, and transfer them to a “Mars ascent vehicle”.
The vehicle would then lift off from the Mars’ surface and place the package into Martian orbit. Then the 2nd spacecraft waiting in the orbit would carefully maneuver itself towards the sample container, collect it and return back to earth.
Well, it’s easier said than done. The cost of the program hasn’t been revealed yet. But it can easily cross several billion dollars.
Bethany Ehlmann, a planetary geologist at the California Institute of Technology said that the landing and working in Jezero Crater should be easier as it’s the 2nd Mars mission to touch Mars.
The collaborated space agencies – NASA and ESA have segregated their jobs based on their experience with Mars.
NASA is assigned to build the Mars ascent vehicle and the sample-retrieval lander for this Mars mission. ESA is assigned to work on the return mission and the small rover as the European Space Agency isn’t experienced in rover landing on Mars yet.
If everything goes according to plan, the Martian sample would land back on earth in September 2031. This multiple-interplanetary program if successful will be one of the greatest achievements by mankind ever.