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NASA Gives Briefing on Mars ‘Perseverance’ Rover and Helicopter ‘Ingenuity’ Due for July 20 Launch

June 17, 2020 (EIRNS)—Today NASA held a fascinating briefing on the Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance and the Mars helicopter, newly named “Ingenuity,” to be launched with Perseverance on July 20th, the 51st anniversary of the first manned lunar landing. The helicopter on Mars “will attempt to be the first powered flight on another planet.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was joined on a panel with representatives of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Kennedy Space Center heading up the mission of the Mars rover. In his opening remarks Bridenstine exclaimed that it was a “great time to be at NASA, to watch all the exciting things NASA is doing.... NASA can do stunning achievements in difficult times.” Bridenstine reported that NASA had one of two critical missions that were continuing during the COVID-19 crisis, and he explained the importance of this undertaking. The mission is scheduled to launch in July. If NASA had missed the launch window for Mars, it would have had to put Perseverance in storage for two years, which could have cost the agency somewhere around a billion dollars.

The naming of the rover Perseverance was most fitting in these challenging times. Bridenstine spoke about the architecture NASA is building out on the Moon with the Artemis mission, preparing the way for future human landings on Mars, and how the Mars robotic missions are a precursor to get the data for understanding Mars.

The scientific instruments Perseverance will carry are quite astonishing. The rover will have 23 cameras, mostly in color, and the wheels on the rover will have new dimension tread design. The instruments will look for ancient habitable environments, evidence of chemical building block of life. The mission will get samples and bring them back to Earth directly from Mars. The rover will land in the Jezero crater located in one of the oldest basins on Mars.

One very engaging report was given by the Deputy Project Manager of the Mars 2020 mission Matt Wallace. He spoke about the challenges NASA faced preparing this mission for launch during the pandemic. He said that fully assembling and doing the final testing of the space craft was very challenging. On the Mars rover, there will be launched the “COVID-19 Perseverance Plate,” which is now affixed to the port side of the rover, show the globe supported by the caduceus staff and serpent symbol of the medical community. The rover will also take a plate containing the names of 11 million people from around the world who signed up to have their names taken on the spacecraft to Mars.

Finally, one of the panelists pointed out that the United States will not be alone in its mission to Mars. China’s will be sending its first lander to Mars, Tianwen, now scheduled for July 23 launch.

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