Ahead of the launch of the much-anticipated Mars 2020 mission in the coming weeks, NASA has released a stirring video that turns the excitement dial all the way up to 11.
The slickly produced video features a myriad of clips from NASA’s past endeavors and includes an inspiring narration that’s sure to send a tingle down your spine.
The Mars 2020 mission is set to get underway at the end of this month, or in early August, following several delays to the original July 17 launch date.
The Perseverance rover and Mars helicopter — called Ingenuity — will begin their seven-month journey to Mars aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that will lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
With its many scientific instruments, advanced computational capabilities for landing, and an array of other new technologies, the U.S. space agency describes Perseverance as “the largest, heaviest, most sophisticated vehicle NASA has ever sent to the red planet.”
Once on the Martian surface, the six-wheel rover will search for signs of habitable conditions in the ancient past and for signs of past microbial life itself, while Ingenuity will scout for potentially useful research sites and also gather data for mapping routes for future Mars rovers. In doing so, the helicopter will become the first aircraft to fly on another planet.
Perseverance will land at the 28-mile-wide Jezero Crater, a place that scientists believe offers a high chance of uncovering signs of past microbial life. Research has already discovered that at the crater, a river flowed into a body of water the size of Lake Tahoe around 3.5 billion years ago, marking it out as a “promising location for finding organic molecules and other potential signs of past microbial life,” according to Ken Farley, the mission’s project scientist.
Lori Glaze, planetary science director at NASA headquarters in Washington, has equally high hopes about the upcoming mission, saying, “Perseverance sets a new bar for our ambitions at Mars. We will get closer than ever before to answering some of science’s longest-standing questions about the red planet, including whether life ever arose there.”
Even more exciting, Perseverance is the first rover to be equipped with a sample-gathering system that will package promising rock and sediment samples for return to Earth by a future mission, giving scientists the chance to examine any haul with more powerful instruments to verify discoveries that Perseverance makes during its exploration of the planet.