With the UAE launching it’s probe “Hope” into orbit this weekend, it’s time to look ahead as to what’s next for space exploration. NASA, for one, is planning on its own launch to Mars and it is just around the corner.
The end of July will see the launch of “Perseverance” as part of the United States’ exploration of Mars. The purpose of this mission is to collect important information, answering questions like whether the planet can support sustained life. Habitual conditions will also be observed, including collecting samples to prove past microbial life. Perseverance will be equipped with a drill to enable the collection of core samples of rocks and soil. These samples will be stored in a specific area on the planet await a future mission to retrieve them and bring them back to Earth.
Having these samples back in the future will go a long way to overcoming the very large hurdle of testing. To date, there has been no way for a human to test anything on the planet. Getting these samples back will help us better understand the potential and risks of future human expeditions to the planet. This testing will help scientists to investigate methods of creating and sustaining oxygen on the planet as well as identifying resources like surface water. Other studies could be done to investigate other variables such as landing, weather, dust, and other conditions that could affect human expedition.
With Earth and Mars being closest they will be for the next couple of years, this launch is perfectly timed. It will take much less time and power to reach the red planet and gather the needed data. This launch is part of a major global move to further understand the idea of life on Mars.