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NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance is all set to launch today — interesting facts you may not already know

NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance is all set to launch today — interesting facts you may not already know
Artist's impression of the Mars Perseverance roverNASA
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will be launching its Mars Perseverance mission on July 30.
  • The Perseverance rover will be replacing the ageing Curiosity rover on the Red Planet as the first part of a round trip journey.
  • The rover has a nuclear power source that won’t run out for at least 88 years.
The Mars Perseverance rover is all set to take off from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 30. The US Space Agency is looking to find signs of alien life from when the planet was still thriving with water, and clues that could help understand the impact of climate change on the Red planet.

By testing spacesuit material and technology, the Mars Perseverance aims to collect information that could be useful for human missions in the future.

Here are seven interesting things that you may not already know about NASA’s Mars Perseverance mission:

​NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has a nuclear power source that won’t run out for at least 88 years

​NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover has a nuclear power source that won’t run out for at least 88 years
Artist's impression of astronauts on MarsNASA

Even though the mission is planned for one Martian year — 687 Earth days — the new explorer comes strapped with a nuclear power source that will sustain for at least another 88 years.

Plutonium-238 has always been the ideal candidate for deep-space travel. As the pellets decay, the heat generated creates electricity when running through thermoelectric generators. The electricity is used to charge the Perseverance rover’s lithium-ion batteries, which powers both the rover and all of its instruments.

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​Perseverance is locked in a race against China

​Perseverance is locked in a race against China
The ATLAS V rocket that will carry Perseverance out of Earth's orbitNASA

Perseverance will be NASA’s fifth successful Mars rover landing. It could also be the fifth successful Mars rover landing overall depending on whether or not China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission gets there first. It already has a week on Perseverance and plans to deploy its rover in April. Perseverance plans to land in February.

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Perseverance is only one part of a round trip to Mars

Perseverance is only one part of a round trip to Mars
NASA

The Perseverance rover will be collecting samples of rocks and sediments that will one day come back to Earth by way of a future mission.

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​The Mars Perseverance mission lays the path for human habitation

​The Mars Perseverance mission lays the path for human habitation
One of the space suits from which a sample will be sent to MarsNASA

The rover will be carrying test samples of different space suit material to see how well different compositions hold up against the radioactivity on Mars. This will give the space agencies back home a better understanding of what can be packed for the astronauts in their human mission to the Red Planet.

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NASA's Mars Perseverance mission is on the hunt for alien life

NASA's Mars Perseverance mission is on the hunt for alien life
Perseverance's landing site, the Jezero CraterNASA

The rover will be looking for signs of ancient Martian life on the surface while also hunting for any indication of microbial life on the planet. Its landing site, the Jezero Crater, once used to be a river delta. Scientists are hoping the once-upon-a-time presence of water will narrow down the clues.

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​Mars Perseverance mission isn’t just a rover but has a helicopter too

​Mars Perseverance mission isn’t just a rover but has a helicopter too
Artist's impression of what the Ingenuity helicopter would look like on MarsNASA

The Mars mission isn’t just about the Perseverance rover - but also the Ingenuity helicopter that will be safely nesting in the rover’s belly until it's ready to be deployed.

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​NASA plans to launch yet another Mars rover into space in another two years

​NASA plans to launch yet another Mars rover into space in another two years
Artist's depiction of the Mars Perseverance rover on the Red PlanetNASA

After the Perseverance mission takes off, NASA has plans to fly another Mars rover to the Red Planet in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russia’s Roscomos in 2022.

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