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NASA launches new rover to search for signs of past Martian life

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NASA launches new rover to search for signs of past Martian life

By Joey Roulette

 

2020-07-30T224856Z_1_LYNXNPEG6T245_RTROPTP_4_SPACE-EXPLORATION-MARS.JPG

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket carrying NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover vehicle lifts off from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

 

(Reuters) - NASA's next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth's planetary neighbor.

 

The next-generation robotic rover - a car-sized six-wheeled vehicle carrying seven scientific instruments - also is scheduled to deploy a mini helicopter on Mars and try out equipment for future human treks to the fourth planet from the sun. Its arrival at Mars is planned for Feb. 18 at the site of an ancient river delta.

 

It soared into the sky from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 7:50 a.m. EDT (1150 GMT) under clear, sunny and warm conditions, carried by an Atlas 5 rocket from the Boeing-Lockheed <BA.N> <LMT.N> joint venture United Launch Alliance. The launch took place after the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) facility in Pasadena, California where its mission engineers were located was rattled by an earthquake.

 

"The spacecraft is in good health and on its way to Mars," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter.

 

The launch was not without a minor glitch. In the first few hours after liftoff, retrieving precise location and positioning data from the spacecraft was hampered in a brief "communications issue," NASA officials said, involving the agency's global network of antennas used to communicate with its most distant probes. The issue was quickly resolved.

 

This marks NASA's ninth journey to the Martian surface.

 

NASA's next-generation Mars rover Perseverance blasted off from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Thursday atop an Atlas 5 rocket on a $2.4 billion mission to search for traces of potential past life on Earth's planetary neighbor. This report produced by Jillian Kitchener.

 

"It's really kind of a key of a whole bunch of new research that we're doing that is focused on the question ... is there life out there?" the space agency's science division chief Thomas Zurbuchen said on a NASA live stream after the launch.

 

Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director Mike Watkins quipped about the California quake: "It was just the Earth being excited about going to Mars. It was a very minor event. Everything's fine, and we're on our way to Mars."

 

Perseverance is due to land at the base of an 820-foot-deep (250 meters) crater called Jezero, site of a former lake and water system from 3.5 billion years ago that scientists suspect could bear evidence of potential past microbial life.

 

Scientists have long debated whether Mars - once a much more hospitable place than it is today - ever harbored life. Water is considered a key ingredient for life, and Mars billions of years ago had lots of it on the surface before the planet became a harsh and desolate outpost.

 

This was the third launch from Earth to Mars this month, following probes sent by the United Arab Emirates and China.

 

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence wrote on Twitter: "Today is a great day for American leadership in space!"

 

HELICOPTER INGENUITY

Aboard Perseverance is a four-pound (1.8 kg) autonomous helicopter named Ingenuity due to test powered flight on Mars. The thin Martian atmosphere - 99% less dense than Earth's - poses a challenge to Ingenuity, which was designed to be light, with rotor blades that are larger and spin more quickly than needed for a helicopter of its mass on Earth.

 

Since the first Mars rover Sojourner landed in 1997, NASA has sent two others - Spirit and Opportunity - that have explored the geology of Martian plains and detected signs of past water formations. NASA also has successfully sent three landers: Pathfinder, Phoenix and InSight. 

 

The United States plans to send astronauts to Mars in the 2030s under a program that envisions using a return to the moon as a testing platform for human missions before making the more ambitious crewed Martian voyage.

 

Perseverance will conduct an experiment to convert elements of the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into propellant for future rockets launching off the Martian surface, or to produce breathable oxygen for future astronauts. Perseverance also will collect and store rock and soil samples intended to be returned to Earth in the future.

 

(Reporting by Joey Roulette in Washington; Editing by Will Dunham)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-07-31
 
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Discovering life that did not evolve on Earth would produce the most fundamental change in our collective experience as humans ever.  It's even possible that life on Earth originally evolved on Mars long ago. 

 

Go for it.

 

Edited by rabas
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Good luck rover gods speed!!very cool!!

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Two off topic posts removed

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11 hours ago, rabas said:

Discovering life that did not evolve on Earth would produce the most fundamental change in our collective experience as humans ever.  It's even possible that life on Earth originally evolved on Mars long ago. 

 

Go for it.

 

That life managed to form on our planet and evolve has been well demonstrated and is already accepted. Sorry to disappoint you.

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.... and if they don't find what they are looking for then I'm sure they will spend another umpteen million dollars to try again. Pity these scientists can't find something better to do with their brains. Meanwhile , back on Mother Earth people are starving and millions have little access to fresh water. What have we gained from previous visits to Mars ?

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12 hours ago, nauseus said:

That life managed to form on our planet and evolve has been well demonstrated and is already accepted. Sorry to disappoint you.

You are certainly right about evolution, 3.8 billion years and counting. The question is about Abiogenesis. How did mere dirt jump to become a complex gene code based life system able to eat, reproduce, and evolve?

 

Wiki, Abiogenesis, or informally the origin of life, is the natural process by which life arose from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. While the details of this process are still unknown ...

 

American Scientist We know how life, once it began, was able to proliferate and diversify until it filled every niche on the planet. Yet one of the most obvious big questions—how did life arise from inorganic matter? —remains a great unknown.

 

Finding life on Mars could answer some of the deepest questions that exist.

 

Edited by rabas
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14 minutes ago, rabas said:

You are certainly right about evolution, 3.8 billion years and counting. The question is about Abiogenesis. How did mere dirt jump to become a complex gene code based life system able to eat, reproduce, and evolve?

 

Wiki, Abiogenesis, or informally the origin of life, is the natural process by which life arose from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds. While the details of this process are still unknown ...

 

American Scientist We know how life, once it began, was able to proliferate and diversify until it filled every niche on the planet. Yet one of the most obvious big questions—how did life arise from inorganic matter? —remains a great unknown.

 

Finding life on Mars could answer some of the deepest questions that exist.

 

That may be true but your comment "discovering life that did not evolve on Earth" was misleading.

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On 7/31/2020 at 10:53 AM, rabas said:

Discovering life that did not evolve on Earth would produce the most fundamental change in our collective experience as humans ever.  It's even possible that life on Earth originally evolved on Mars long ago. 

 

Go for it.

 

Would be great to really  <deleted>  off the religious,  just a matter  of  time before somethings found somewhere and religion bites  the dust

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48 minutes ago, Humpy said:

What have we gained from previous visits to Mars ?

The ability to get there

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8 minutes ago, bodga said:

somethings found somewhere and religion bites  the dust

Nah, then you have the question "But who put it there" and we are back to square one. 🙂

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1 minute ago, thequietman said:

Nah, then you have the question "But who put it there" and we are back to square one. 🙂

Oh  im sure theyll change their  narrative when that  happens, I mean adam and eve  had incest and then theres a  virgin birth, rising from the dead etc etc

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Adam and Eve never existed. Even the Christians agree to that. Virgin birth would be best explained by heavy petting with no penetration, and sperm found a way. Rising from the dead, I suspect Jesus was comatose, heart slowed right down, people assumed he was dead. Put in tomb, and then he recovered. ( if true) Most of what is in the Bible can be explained away. Moses parting the red sea and roman soldiers getting caught in the wave! Nah, that area was marsh land, and the people were able to walk across. Chariots on the other hand, just sank in.

 

If you really want to mess with a Christians head - explain that Jesus' birthday is definitely not Christmas Day. They do not like that. 🙂 Ans so it goes. 🙂

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