NASA's Next Mars Rover Perseverance Honours Medical Teams Fighting Coronavirus

Glowing green oxygen is detected for first time in Mars

NASA Curiosity takes incredible image of Earth and Venus from Mars

Then again, NASA is facing a tight deadline.

Cco-author Ann Carine Vandaele of the Institut Royal d'Aéronomie Spatiale de Belgique, Belgium, said: "Previous observations hadn't captured any kind of green glow at Mars, so we made a decision to reorient the UVIS nadir channel to point at the 'edge" of Mars, similar to the perspective you see in images of Earth taken from the ISS'. "It had to be done right - you can't make a mistake at that point - and of course the environment made that a lot more hard".

Dubbed "Perseverance," the SUV-sized rover would embark on a $2.7 billion exploration mission to search for ancient signs of life on Mars, and begin the first leg of an attempt to bring samples from the Red Planet back to Earth.

The name of the rover itself, announced early in the year through a student competition, has now become a symbol for the mission. Next week, the fairing and spacecraft will be transported to Space Launch Complex 41, where they'll be attached to the top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

Earth and Venus, as seen from the surface of Mars.

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The team used the orbiter's advanced suite of instruments, known as NOMAD (Nadir and Occultation for Mars Discovery) and including the ultraviolet and visible spectrometer (UVIS) to scan the Martian atmosphere. "Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were walking on the moon for the first time in history", Bridenstine said.

With six wheels created to handle the rugged Martian terrain, Perseverance in many ways looks like Curiosity, one of its predecessors on Mars.

Health care workers were "on front lines keeping us safe" during launch preparations, said deputy project manager Matt Wallace of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The spacecraft would be outfitted with a more powerful computer that would help guide it to the surface and help it avoid hazardous areas, such as rock piles. "We think we have some robustness there, some good robustness there, in the launch window", Wallace said. The emission is very hard to see, even from Earth.

NASA hopes the mission will pave the way for an eventual human mission to the Red Planet. Charged with returning astronauts to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA's Artemis lunar exploration plans.

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Earth airglow observed from the International Space Station.

And the rover will do all that while collecting the first samples of Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust) for return to Earth by a set of future missions.

It's been predicted for around 40 years that a similar thing should occur in the atmosphere of Mars - though it's taken until now to directly observe it. "Trying to control a system like this under those conditions is not easy".

The launch site is at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the NASA team is excited: "The mission has one launch, 314 million miles of interplanetary space and seven minutes of terror to get safely onto the surface of Mars", explained Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division.

It's possible, though, that the rover might be able to zoom in and snap a photograph of the helicopter hovering above the planet's red soil.

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