The new Mars rover, also known as « Perseverance », took off this Thursday from Cape Canaveral in Florida in the direction of the Red Planet with the mission of finding microscopic life either present or past on the Martian surface.
The spacecraft of the POT was launched into space on an Atlas V rocket at 7:51 (11:51 GTM) from launch pad 41 of the Kennedy Space Center of the POT where the launch conditions were unbeatable.
After the well-known countdown of space launches and a small tremor at the Pasadena (California) control center, the rocket rose to the skies and headed for Mars where it is expected to arrive next February.
The Mars 2020 mission was due to take place at this time of year as this is when Earth and Mars are properly aligned to make travel as cheap as possible and would have to wait 26 months and cost about $ 500 million to delay launch.
The search for life on other planets begins with the new rover from mars
Earth tremors, communication problems and a lot of emotion marked that Thursday the launch of the rocket that headed for Mars by the rover « Perseverance », which will look for signs of past and present life on a planet to which the United States wants to send human beings from 2030.
The administrator of the POTJim Bridenstine said at a post-launch press conference that finding life on Mars « would be humanity’s greatest discovery » and « would transform the way we conduct space exploration. »
« It would be the greatest discovery in history, but I think it would also allow us to do more than we have ever done because there would be much more interest in going further, » Bridenstine said.
The Atlas V rocket, to which the « Perseverance » was attached, took off this Thursday at 7.50 local time (11.50 GMT) from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral (Florida) and thus began the Mars 2020 mission of the POT, with a cost of about 2,700 million dollars.
If all goes as planned, « Perseverance », a nuclear powered vehicle equipped with a new generation of robotic space devices, will hit Jezero Crater on Mars on February 18.
The vehicle, named after a Virginia boy, will travel a million miles (1,609 million km) to land on the Martian surface to complete a mission that will last at least a year on Mars, or what is the same 687 earthly days.
AN EARTHQUAKE LAUNCHES THE ROVER
Minutes before takeoff, a small tremor of intensity three was noticed at the Pasadena (California) control center that fired « Perseverance » in its last moments on Earth, but that finally had no incidence.
The experts of the POT They reiterated the « perfection of takeoff » during the post-launch press conference that was held under unbeatable conditions, and although there are some communication problems to receive the data from the ship, they assured that « it is something usual » in deep space.
« We have enough time to retrieve the signal and start interacting with the spacecraft to make the necessary path corrections over the next few days, » said deputy project manager Matt Wallace.
The vehicle, which began construction almost a decade ago, weighs more than a ton and has a variety of devices that will enable it to meet the 2020 Mars Rover mission goals.
Aside from looking for microscopic life, it will transform carbon dioxide into oxygen for future human explorations and fly the first aircraft in the fine atmosphere of Mars.
« Perservarance » has a robotic arm, the « Ingenuity » helicopter, twenty-five cameras and the first microphone that will allow the sounds of Mars to be relayed, although one of the milestones will be the collection of samples from the Martian soil that will be sent to Earth.
The shipment of what will be the first samples from Mars is part of a second mission that will begin in 2026 with the collaboration of the European Space Agency (ESA) and that will require up to three launches for scientists to directly analyze sediments from another world .
Some of the predecessor rovers that the United States sent to Mars were Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity, the latter came to the planet in 2012 and was the one that showed that at some point there was water on the Martian surface.
Like its predecessor, the vehicle is powered by nuclear energy, specifically plutonium, and has a lifespan of up to seventeen years in total.
TO SPACE DURING COVID-19
The mission, according to Jim Bridenstine, « has been a great challenge given the circumstances of the pandemic, » which has already claimed the lives of more than 150,000 people in the United States.
The long shadow of the coronavirus was present throughout the launch, in which the workers present at the facilities of the different control centers distributed in different parts of the country were limited to the maximum and celebrated the successful takeoff with masks, applause and remote clashes of hands.
Nor were they seen the hundreds of space enthusiasts who normally occupy the facilities of the Kennedy Space Center to see the mission take off live as the POT decided to close it to the public.
The US aerospace agency also wanted to pay tribute to the millions of people affected by the pandemic and the country’s toilets by installing a plaque on the side of the vehicle with the globe and the staff of Asclepius, the ancient symbol of the Greeks linked to the healing of the sick.
OBJECTIVE TO CONQUER MARS
Since the arrival of President Donald Trump, the United States has placed special emphasis on the exploration of space, and the launch of this mission marks the beginning of what will be the conquest of Mars with the arrival of the first human beings in the coming decades. .
The mission has a total cost of 2,700 million dollars, a small part of the total budget of the POT It is more than 22,000 million dollars and with which it competes with other countries that recently started missions to the planet.
This is the third mission to be sent to Mars this month, after the take-off of the UAE orbital device on July 19 and China’s Tianwen 1 spacecraft with space vehicles.