The Perseverance rover has begun its 'real' mission to Mars: to search for traces of life.
After flying the first drone to another planet, testing a system to produce oxygen essential for future human missions, recording the sound of the Martian wind and checking the operation of all instruments, the NASA rover can now dedicate itself to its goal. main.
It has been less than 4 months since its arrival on the red planet, just over 100 Martian days (Sol) in which Curiosity's 'different twin' rover strung together an incredible series of firsts and proved it could be ready to explore the planet in search of signs of the possible presence of life in the distant past.
From 1 June Perseverance has formally concluded the test phase and will now be able to devote itself to the busy program of scientific analyzes.
The first objective will be to move to the nearby site of Séítah where it will collect the first samples that will then be stored and then in the future be taken to Earth (to provide for the transport will be a new and ambitious specific mission). This first scientific campaign already includes numerous steps to analyze the rocky sediments that are found today in what was the bottom of an ancient and vast body of water about 100 meters deep.
To complete the task it will take a few months, covering between 2.5 and 5 kilometers, and it is expected that during the campaign it will be able to fill 8 of the 43 'sample tubes' which will then be transported to Earth. Once the first campaign has been completed, the researchers would then like to move the rover to the Three Forks site in the north, where the delta of an ancient watercourse is believed to be present and where the chemical characteristics of the soil could make it easier to find any traces. of ancient life forms.
The planned route for the Perseverance rover on Mars
(source: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ASU / MSSS)