Launched back in July 30, 2020, the Mars 2020 rover, Perseverance, has landed at its intended destination just a bit over a week ago. This robotic vehicle is a fine demonstration of the latest engineering achievements. And its main task is equally fascinating: to search for signs of ancient life that could have possibly existed on the Red Planet, as well as to collect rock samples for their future return to Earth.
Perseverance Rover. Image credit: NASA
The entire design of Perseverance is similar to its predecessor Curiosity. However, all of its systems include moderate upgrades. That aside, Perseverance is also carrying the mini-helicopter Ingenuity, an experimental aircraft that will be used for an important technology demonstration: the first powered flight on another planet.
Perseverance is roughly of a size of a car, about 3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide and 2.2 meters tall. However, despite these dimensions it weighs just 1025 kilograms, or 2260 pounds, and is lighter than a compact car. Many parts – when considering their purpose – are very similar to other robots: body and structure support, controlling computer – ‘brain’, internal heaters, insulation, cameras, sensors, multiple instruments, including arm and ‘hand’ to reach for and collect rock samples, wheels, batteries and power systems, and also communications equipment.
NASA has spent US$2.2 billion just to develop and build all the necessary hardware for its latest creation. According to this margin, Perseverance is NASA’s sixth-most expensive robotic planetary mission, even when its development strongly benefited from all know-how acquired from the Curiosity mission.
You can find out many more interesting facts about Perseverance in the video below (created by Real Engineering team on YouTube), as well as in the official Mars 2020 mission’s website.