NASA's rover Perseverance is hurling to Mars since its launch on July 30 2020 (see this Zapread post). It will land tonight at 21:44 CET, meaning 11 minutes later, we should receive signal from a safe rover on the surface of Mars.
The Perseverance rover is very similar at first sight to the Curiosity rover that landed in August 2012. The design of the main body and driving system is the same, but a whole bunch of details are new, for example:
- The payload contains a system to test out In-Situ Resource Utilisation: if it works, this system will create oxygen filtered out of the minute concentration of oygen in the Martian atmosphere
- A 6 cm drill is on-board which can take samples and store them in a cache. When this cache is filled, it will be left in a place where in the 2030s, the Mars Sample Return mission will retrieve it and send it back to Earth for further research.
- A small helicopter called Ingenuity is on-board which can be deployed to scout the surroundings of the rover
- Some black & white 2 Megapixel cameras onboard have been upgraded to full-colour 20 Megapixel cameras, and many more cameras are added
- Because of the sharp Mars rocks, the wheels of Curiosity teared down faster than expected. So new, bigger kicks are on!
Watch the NASA livefeed tonight!