Perseverance (rover)

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Perseverance
Part of Mars 2020
Perseverance Landing Skycrane (cropped).jpg
View of Perseverance from the skycrane during landing
Other name(s)
  • Mars 2020 rover
  • Percy
TypeMars rover
ManufacturerJet Propulsion Laboratory
Technical details
Length2.9 m (9 ft 6 in)
Diameter2.7 m (8 ft 10 in)
Height2.2 m (7 ft 3 in)
Launch mass1,025 kg (2,260 lb)
Power110 W (0.15 hp)
Flight history
Launch date30 July 2020, 11:50:00 UTC[1]
Launch siteCape Canaveral, SLC-41
Landing date18 February 2021, 20:55 UTC[2]
Landing site18°26′41″N 77°27′03″E / 18.4447°N 77.4508°E / 18.4447; 77.4508,
Jezero crater
Total hours161 since landing[2]
Distance traveled0 km (0 mi)[3]
as of 23 February 2021
Instruments
Mars 2020 JPL second insignia.svg
NASA Mars rovers

Perseverance, nicknamed Percy,[4][5] is a car-sized Mars rover designed to explore Jezero Crater on Mars as part of NASA's Mars 2020 mission. It was manufactured by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and launched on 30 July 2020 at 11:50:00 UTC.[1] Confirmation that the rover successfully landed on Mars was received on 18 February 2021 at 20:55 UTC.[2][6] As of 25 February 2021, Perseverance has been on Mars for 7 sols (7 Earth days).

Perseverance has a similar design to its predecessor rover, Curiosity, from which it was moderately upgraded; it carries seven primary payload instruments, 19 cameras, and two microphones.[7] The rover is also carrying the mini-helicopter Ingenuity, an experimental aircraft that will attempt the first powered flight on another planet.

The rover's goals include identifying ancient Martian environments capable of supporting life, seeking out evidence if microbial life existed in those environments, collecting rock and soil samples to store on the Martian surface, and testing oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere to prepare for future crewed missions.[8]

Mission[edit]

Science objectives[edit]

The Perseverance rover has four science objectives that will support the Mars Exploration Program's science goals:[8]

  1. Looking for habitability: identify past environments that were capable of supporting microbial life
  2. Seeking biosignatures: seek signs of possible past microbial life in those habitable environments, particularly in specific rock types known to preserve signs over time
  3. Caching samples: collect core rock and regolith ("soil") samples and store them on the Martian surface
  4. Preparing for humans: test oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere.

History[edit]

First image acquired moments after landing of Perseverance, from Front Left Hazard Avoidance Camera, 18 February 2021

Despite the high-profile success of the Curiosity rover landing in August 2012, NASA's Mars Exploration Program was in a state of uncertainty in the early 2010s. Budget cuts forced NASA to pull out of a planned collaboration with the European Space Agency which included a rover mission.[9] By the summer of 2012, a program that had been launching a mission to Mars every two years suddenly found itself with no missions approved after 2013.[10]

In 2011, the Planetary Science Decadal Survey, a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine containing an influential set of recommendations made by the planetary science community, stated that the top priority of NASA's planetary exploration program in the decade between 2013 and 2022 should be to begin a Mars Sample Return campaign, a three-mission project to collect, launch, and safely return samples of the Martian surface to Earth. The report stated that NASA should invest in a sample-caching rover as the first step in this effort, with the goal of keeping costs under US$2.5 billion.[11]

After the success of the Curiosity rover and in response to the recommendations of the decadal survey, NASA announced its intent to launch a new Mars rover mission by 2020 at the American Geophysical Union conference in December 2012.[12]

Though initially hesitant to commit to an ambitious sample-caching capability (and subsequent follow-on missions), a NASA-convened science definition team for the Mars 2020 project released a report in July 2013 that the mission should "select and store a compelling suite of samples in a returnable cache."[13]

Design[edit]

Perseverance in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Pasadena, California

The Perseverance design evolved from its predecessor, the Curiosity rover. The two rovers share a similar body plan, landing system, cruise stage, and power system, but the design was improved in several ways for Perseverance. Engineers designed the rover wheels to be more robust than Curiosity's wheels, which have sustained some damage.[14] Perseverance has thicker, more durable aluminum wheels, with reduced width and a greater diameter (52.5 cm (20.7 in)) than Curiosity's 50 cm (20 in) wheels.[15][16] The aluminum wheels are covered with cleats for traction and curved titanium spokes for springy support.[17] Like Curiosity, the rover includes a robotic arm, although Perseverance's arm is longer and stronger, measuring 2.1 m (6 ft 11 in). The arm hosts an elaborate rock-coring and sampling mechanism to store geologic samples from the Martian surface in sterile caching tubes.[18]

The combination of larger instruments, new sampling and caching system, and modified wheels makes Perseverance heavier, weighing 1,025 kg (2,260 lb) compared to Curiosity at 899 kg (1,982 lb)—a 14% increase.[19]

The rover's radioisotope thermoelectric power generator (MMRTG) has a mass of 45 kg (99 lb) and uses 4.8 kg (11 lb) of plutonium-238 oxide as its power source. The natural decay of plutonium-238, which has a half-life of 87.7 years, gives off heat which is converted to electricity—approximately 110 watts at launch.[20] This will decrease over time as its power source decays.[20] The MMRTG charges two lithium-ion rechargeable batteries which power the rover's activities, and must be recharged periodically. Unlike solar panels, the MMRTG provides engineers with significant flexibility in operating the rover's instruments even at night, during dust storms, and through winter.[20]

The rover's computer uses the BAE Systems RAD750 radiation-hardened single board computer based on a ruggedized PowerPC G3 microprocessor (PowerPC 750). The computer contains 128 megabytes of volatile DRAM, and runs at 133 MHz. The flight software runs on the VxWorks Operating System, is written in C and is able to access 4 gigabytes of NAND non-volatile memory on a separate card.[21] Perseverance relies on three antennas for telemetry, all of which are relayed through craft currently in orbit around Mars. The primary Ultra high frequency (UHF) antenna can send data from the rover at a maximum rate of two megabits per second.[22] Two slower X-band antennas provide communications redundancy.

Duplicate[edit]

Perseverance has a twin rover used for testing and problem solving, Optimism (operational Perseverance twin for integration of mechanisms and instruments sent to Mars), a vehicle system test bed (VSTB). It is housed at the JPL Mars Yard for problem solving on simulated Mars terrain.[23]

Mars helicopter experiment[edit]

Also traveling with Perseverance is the Mars helicopter experiment named Ingenuity. This solar-powered helicopter drone has a mass of 1.8 kg (4.0 lb). It will demonstrate flight stability and the potential to scout for ideal driving routes for the rover over its planned 30-Martian-day (31-Earth-day) experimental flight test window. If Ingenuity survives its first cold Martian nights, where temperatures dip as low as −90 °C (−130 °F), the team will proceed with the first powered flight of an aircraft on another planet.[24][25] Other than a camera, it carries no scientific instruments.[26][27][28]

Name[edit]

About twenty K-12 student finalists are standing on a stage, all smiling, and holding a banner that reads "NASA's perseverance rover". In front of them on the stage is a miniature rover.
NASA's Thomas Zurbuchen announced the rover's official name, Perseverance, on 5 March 2020, at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia. Zurbuchen made the final selection following a 2019 nationwide naming contest that drew more than 28,000 essays by K-12 students from every U.S. state and territory.

Associate Administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen selected the name Perseverance following a nationwide K-12 student "name the rover" contest that attracted more than 28,000 proposals. A seventh-grade student, Alexander Mather from Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia, submitted the winning entry at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In addition to the honor of naming the rover, Mather and his family were invited to NASA's Kennedy Space Center to watch the rover's July 2020 launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.[29]

Mather wrote in his winning essay:

Curiosity. InSight. Spirit. Opportunity. If you think about it, all of these names of past Mars rovers are qualities we possess as humans. We are always curious, and seek opportunity. We have the spirit and insight to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But, if rovers are to be the qualities of us as a race, we missed the most important thing. Perseverance. We as humans evolved as creatures who could learn to adapt to any situation, no matter how harsh. We are a species of explorers, and we will meet many setbacks on the way to Mars. However, we can persevere. We, not as a nation but as humans, will not give up. The human race will always persevere into the future.[29]

Mars transit[edit]

The Perseverance rover lifted off successfully on 30 July 2020, at 11:50:00 UTC aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.[30]

The rover took about seven months to travel to Mars and made its landing in Jezero Crater on 18 February 2021, to begin its science phase.[31]

Map of West Jezero Crater
Perseverance parachute and powered landing sequence.

Landing[edit]

Mars - Perseverance rover - Landing Site Panoramic View (18 February 2021)
Mars - Perseverance rover - EDL Overview (18 February 2021)

The successful landing of Perseverance in Jezero Crater was announced at 20:55 UTC on 18 February 2021,[2] the signal from Mars taking 11 minutes to arrive at Earth. The rover touched down at 18°26′41″N 77°27′03″E / 18.4447°N 77.4508°E / 18.4447; 77.4508, 1 km (0.62 mi) southeast of the center of its 7 km (4.3 mi) wide landing ellipse.[32]

Instruments[edit]

Diagram illustrating the locations of scientific instruments aboard Perseverance
Instruments on the Mars Perseverance rover (3:08; animation; 16 February 2021)

NASA considered nearly 60 proposals[33][34] for rover instrumentation. On 31 July 2014, NASA announced the seven instruments that would make up the payload for the rover:[35][36]

  • Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE), an exploration technology investigation that will produce a small amount of oxygen (O
    2
    ) from Martian atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO
    2
    ). This technology could be scaled up in the future for human life support or to make the rocket fuel for return missions.[43]
  • Mastcam-Z, a stereoscopic imaging system with the ability to zoom.
  • Mastcam-Z Calibration target, an enhanced version of the MarsDial used on previous Mars rovers to provide an illumination and colour reference for the cameras. The Calibration Target was developed by the Niels Bohr Institute of the University of Copenhagen.[45] It includes ceramic grayscale and color references with known reflectance, magnets to reduce dust, shadow-post (Gnomon) and compass to show the direction of the Sun. Seven vignettes between each ceramic disk symbolize the inner Solar System and the evolution of life on Earth, human figures and a stylized space rocket. The base plate is also inscribed with "TWO WORLDS, ONE BEGINNING". Around the bottom of the plate, mostly obscured to the camera are additional messages in English, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic, which read:

Are we alone? We came here to look for signs of life, and to collect samples of Mars for study on Earth. To those who follow, we wish a safe journey and the joy of discovery.[46]

An L-shaped bracket close by has a secondary target with grayscale and colored ceramic squares.

There are additional cameras and two audio microphones (the first working microphones on Mars), that will be used for engineering support during landing,[49] driving, and collecting samples.[50]

Images[edit]

Perseverance parachute descent over the Jezero crater photographed by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

The parachute descent of the Perseverance rover was photographed by the HiRISE high resolution camera of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

Upon landing, Perseverance immediately began to send images of its surrounding area, in front of and behind the rover using its onboard Hazard Avoidance Cameras.[51]

Traverse[edit]

Perseverance is planned to visit the bottom and upper parts of the 3.8-3.4 billion-year-old Neretva Vallis delta, the smooth and etched parts of the Jezero crater floor deposits interpreted as volcanic ash or aeolian airfall deposits, emplaced before the formation of the delta; the ancient shoreline covered with Transverse Aeolian Ridges (dunes) and mass wasting deposits, and finally, it is planned to climb onto the Jezero crater rim.[citation needed]

Simplified geologic map of the planned Perseverance traverse

Cost[edit]

NASA's annual costs for the Perseverance rover over its development and prime mission

NASA plans to invest roughly US$2.75 billion in the project over 11 years, including US$2.2 billion for the development and build of the hardware, US$243 million for launch services, and US$291 million for 2.5 years of mission operations.[7][52]

Adjusted for inflation, Perseverance is NASA's sixth-most expensive robotic planetary mission, though it is cheaper than its predecessor, Curiosity.[53] Perseverance benefited from spare hardware and "build-to print" designs from the Curiosity mission, which helped reduce development costs and saved "probably tens of millions, if not 100 million dollars" according to Mars 2020 Deputy Chief Engineer Keith Comeaux.[54]

Commemorative and other plates[edit]

"Send Your Name to Mars"[edit]

NASA's "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign invited people from around the world to submit their names to travel aboard the agency's next rover to Mars. 10,932,295 names were submitted. The names were etched by an electron beam onto three fingernail-sized silicon chips, along with the essays of the 155 finalists in NASA's "Name the Rover" contest. The first name to be engraved was "Angel Santos." The three chips share space on an anodized plate with a laser engraved graphic representing Earth, Mars, and the Sun. The rays emanating from the Sun contain the phrase "Explore As One" written in Morse code.[55] The plate was then mounted on the rover on 26 March 2020.[56]

"Send Your Name to Mars" campaign of Mars 2020
"Send Your Name" placard attached to Perseverance.
A sample of a souvenir boarding pass for those who registered their names to be flown aboard the Perseverance rover as part of the "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign.

Geocaching in Space Trackable[edit]

Part of Perseverance's cargo is a geocaching trackable item viewable with the SHERLOC's WATSON camera.[57]

In 2016, NASA SHERLOC co-investigator Dr. Marc Fries — with help from his son Wyatt — was inspired by Geocaching's 2008 placement of a cache on the International Space Station to set out and try something similar with the rover mission. After floating the idea around mission management, it eventually reached NASA scientist Francis McCubbin, who would join the SHERLOC instrument team as a collaborator to move the project forward. The Geocaching inclusion was scaled-down to a trackable item that players could search for from NASA camera views and then log on the site.[58]

In a manner similar to the "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign, the geocaching trackable code was carefully printed on a one-inch, polycarbonate glass disk that serves as part of the rover's calibration target. It will serve as an optical target for the WATSON imager and a spectroscopic standard for the SHERLOC instrument. The disk is made of a prototype astronaut helmet visor material that will be tested for its potential use in manned missions to Mars. Designs were approved by the mission leads at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), NASA Public Affairs, and NASA HQ, in addition to Groundspeak Geocaching HQ.[59][60]

Tribute to healthcare workers plate[edit]

Tribute to healthcare workers plate seen before being attached to the rover

Perseverance launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, which began to affect the mission planning in March 2020. To show appreciation for healthcare workers who helped during the pandemic, an 8 cm × 13 cm (3.1 in × 5.1 in) plate with a staff-and serpent symbol was placed on the rover. The project manager, Matt Wallace, said he hoped that future generations going to Mars would be able to appreciate healthcare workers during 2020.[61]

Media, cultural impact, and legacy[edit]

Gallery[edit]

Landing maps[edit]

Ancient river system surrounding Jezero crater
Position of Perseverance and its landing ellipse in Jezero crater
Landing ellipse and landing site of Perseverance

Components of Perseverance[edit]

Full look at Perseverance's components at https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/rover/.

Early images[edit]

Rover images[edit]

Selfies[edit]

Perseverance has not yet taken any selfies. To do this, it would use a camera on its arm.

Wide images[edit]

Videos[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  55. ^ NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover (official account) [@NASAPersevere] (30 March 2020). "Some of you spotted the special message I'm carrying to Mars along with the 10.9+ million names you all sent in. "Explore As One" is written in Morse code in the Sun's rays, which connect our home planet with the one I'll explore. Together, we persevere" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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External links[edit]