Our curious human nature is driving us to search for the unknown and discover new worlds, pushing the boundaries of our scientific and technical limits further and further.
The intangible desire to explore and challenge the boundaries of what we know and where we have been has provided benefits to our society for centuries.
Human’s space exploration helps to address fundamental questions about our place in the Universe and the history of our solar system.
The fundamental dilemma is: Is there any kind of life outside the Heart?
This is exactly what we are trying to discover with our missions on Mars and we could not be closer to reaching our goal thanks to the space expedition named Mars2020 of the Perseverance Rover which started on the 30th of July 2020.
Perseverance is a NASA Mars rover that landed on 18 February 2021.
The rover will search for past life on Mars and collect soil and rock samples for future return to Earth.
Getting Perseverance's samples back to Earth will require at least two missions that are currently being planned by NASA and the European Space Agency.
Perseverance's Mastcam-Z imaging system captured this 360-degree panorama at “Van Zyl Overlook,” where the rover parked during Ingenuity helicopter’s first flights. The 2.4-billion-pixel panorama consists of 992 images stitched together.
From the 1st of June,The Perseverance rover began its 'real' mission to Mars: search for traces of life.
After flying the first helicopter, called Ingenuity, to another planet, testing a system to produce oxygen that will be 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 do the work he was built for.
The first objective task 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. 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.
A key objective for Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).
It will take a few months to complete the task, 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 trace of ancient life forms.
The overall cost of this mission would be around 2.7 billion dollars.
And here comes the difficult part, taking back the samples to Heart! Here is a scheme of the NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency) that would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.
This infographic shows NASA and the European Space Agency's general plans for returning samples from Mars. (taken from The Planetary Society's workshops)
What can we do in the meantime?
For the moment if these topics have attracted your attention you can follow the nasa updates on their website and also sign up for their Space Advocate newsletter to not miss any update. They also offer a free Space Advocacy 101 course, to get more familiar with Nasa’s Work.
For receiving news, announcements and indications on useful action you can take to support the mission ,it would be a great idea to sign up for the weekly Nasa Newsletter and spread the word around!
Always remember, Every new day offers an opportunity to discover the unknown so do not lose!
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4YOUDIGITAL di Giulia Secomandi