By Tim Binnall
An exciting new chapter in humanity's exploration of Mars kicked off this morning with the launch of NASA's Perseverance Rover which is now en route to the Red Planet to search for evidence of ancient life. The six-wheeled wonder boasts an array of scientific instruments that will examine and retrieve samples from the ground at Mars' Jezero crater, which is believed to have once been filled with water and, one hopes, contained some kind of organisms. Beyond that tantalizing mission, the Rover will also perform experiments aimed at showing that oxygen can be mechanically processed from the Martian atmosphere.
Fans of NASA images showing strange and unusual objects sitting on the surface of the Red Planet will be thrilled to learn that the rover is equipped with a whopping 23 cameras, suggesting an eventual feast for the eyes of anomaly hunters across the internet and, perhaps, fresh oddities like guns, spoons, and other bizarre 'artifacts.' Perseverance will also make history by unleashing a small helicopter, dubbed Ingenuity, that will take to the skies over the Red Planet to get a better understanding of its atmosphere and the rover is also outfitted with a pair of microphones which will record sounds from Mars.
In light of all that, space enthusiasts are understandably excited about what kind of insights Perseverance can provide assuming that it safely touches down on the Red Planet when it is scheduled to land on the afternoon of February 21st, 2021. While some scientists, such as NASA's Dr. Jim Green, have suggested that the rover could detect evidence for life on Mars shortly after arriving on the planet, others have cautioned that it could take years of sample study before such a declaration is made. Meanwhile, Perseverance will not be the only newcomer to Mars next year as another rover, which is part of China's ambitious Tianwen-1 mission that was launched last week, is also set to arrive on the Red Planet in February of 2021.