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Ready to the Red planet; Nasa rover set for its first flight

It was in late July, NASA’s next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral.  And after its seven months journey, Nasa’s Perseverance rover is preparing to touch down on Mars. The landing will mark the start of its multi-year search for signs of ancient microbial life.

NASA’s next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential life on Earth’s planetary neighbour. This is considered to be the largest ever vehicle to be dispatched to the Red Planet.

This was scheduled as the third launch from Earth to Mars. The state from which the rover was launched, Florida, is currently one of the hot spots in the United States for the coronavirus pandemic. Scientists have long debated whether Mars ever harbored life. Water is a major ingredient for life and in the Mars billions of years ago, it had enough water.

Aboard Perseverance is a 1.8 kg autonomous helicopter named Ingenuity. NASA’s first Mars rover was Sojourner that landed in 1997. NASA also has successfully sent three landers – Pathfinder, Phoenix and InSight. The United States has plans to send astronauts to Mars by the 2030s.

Perseverance will conduct an experiment to convert elements of the carbon dioxide-rich Martian atmosphere into propellant for future rocket launching on the planet’s surface. The rover also aims to help bring Martian rock samples back to Earth.

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