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The Smoke Signal

The Smoke Signal

Mars Rover Perseverance


On July 30th, 2020, the U.S. launched its fifth space rover, Perseverance. According to NASA, It headed to Mars to collect a variety of Martian rock and soil to find “ancient microbial life”. Landing on February 18th, 2021, Perseverance began its journey around the foreign planet in hopes of finding information for “Future Human Missions”.

Mars Rover Perseverance is the younger sibling of Space Rover Opportunity, which landed on Mars in early 2003 and is still operating today. Because of Opportunity’s durable design against Mars’ harsh environment, scientists used the same blueprints for Perseverance, to ensure long activity on Mars. They are hoping that Perseverance will last at least 14 years using the same blueprints.

Scientists chose the Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-long crater, as Perseverance’s landing site as they believe it used to be the location of an ancient lake over 100 ft deep and 22 miles long. This crater was the first area the space rover observed, finding signs of water through lake sediments found on the crater floor.

Over four years, NASA announced that Perseverance has discovered Mars’ volcanic history, climate, surface, interior, and habitability. Even meeting up again with Ingenuity, the drone rover Perseverance carried to Mars. There are many pictures of a suspected UFO in Perseverance’s pictures that have been received, however, scientists later discovered that it was Ingenuity roaming in the sky. Unfortunately as of January 2024, almost 4 years, and 72 flights since its launch from Perseverance, Ingenuity ceased its mission after the motor blade broke, along with the multiple blades damaged.

Perseverance is equipped with many different instruments, which all are needed to observe, analyze, and capture objects and/or ancient signs of life. NASA states that one of the many cameras aboard Perseverance, the Mastcam-Z, is a “mast-mounted camera system that is equipped with a zoom function”. The cameras’ main purpose is to capture detailed 3D images and videos of distant objects. The cameras sit 6-½ feet high, and almost 10 inches apart, mounted on the rover mast, weighing almost 9 pounds.

There are three other main cameras, which are Supercam, SHERLOC, and PIXL which are located at the end of Perseverance’s robotic arm. NASA uses the Supercam to “examines rocks and soils with a camera, laser, and spectrometers to seek chemical materials that could be related to past life on Mars”; SHERLOC “uses cameras, spectrometers, and a laser to search for organics and minerals that have been altered by watery environments and may be signs of past microbial life”; and PIXL “has a tool called an X-ray spectrometer. It identifies chemical elements at a tiny scale”. The information gathered by the cameras is sent back to Earth and further analyzed by scientists, which may grant us the possible answer that humanity may be able to travel and live on Mars.

Three other important instruments on perseverance are: MEDA (Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer), used to make measurements on the weather, like wind speed, direction, temperature, humidity, and the amount of dust particles in the atmosphere; MOXIE (Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment), which tests multiple ways on how to produce oxygen from Martian atmosphere for future human exploration; and Lastly, the RIMFAX (Radar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment) is used specifically to probe the ground underneath the space rover, using a “ground-penetrating radar”

Many may think space rovers and the information they find are deemed useless to non-scientists. However, these space rovers may be the sole savior of humanity if another catastrophic event were to happen on Earth. Or answer the controversial question of whether or not we are the only ones in the Milky Way. The history of our galaxy has been an intriguing topic for many centuries, and using space rovers can take scientists one step further down into solving many questions we once couldn’t even comprehend.

You can find more information on Perseverance on NASA’s official website, along with many pictures received from the Mars rover.


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About the Contributor
Kelli Fernandez
Kelli Fernandez, Author
Kelli Fernandez is a freshman at Lompoc High School. This is her first year in Journalism. At LHS she is part of the Tennis team. Outside of school she is interested in: music, movies, and baking. A fun fact about Kelli is that she had been home schooled for six years.  

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