The Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover successfully launched on July 30, 2020, is now en route toward Mars. The mission will pave the way for future human expeditions to Mars and demonstrates technologies that could be used by future Mars explorers.
Designed to search for signs of ancient microbial life, the robotic rover is equipped with an instrument that will drill to collect core samples of Martian rock and soil and then store them in sealed tubes for pick-up by a future mission. The Mars 2020 rover will include innovative technologies to explore the Jezero crater region, such as a Mars Helicopter that will become the first powered flight craft on the Red Planet and a sample caching system.
In anticipation of its landing, scheduled for Feb 18, 2021, we invited two SETI Institute researchers to discuss the potential of the mission to find evidence of microbial life and employ new techniques to explore Mars. Chemist and planetary scientist Janice Bishop studies spectral fingerprints of minerals and Mars analogs on Earth and is a member of the CRISM orbital spectroscopy team. Physicist and planetary scientist Pablo Sobron develops spectroscopic instruments for planetary exploration and is a member of the Mars 2020 Science Team. They will tell us how Perseverance will search for traces of past or present microbial life in chemical, mineralogical, or textural fingerprints. Perseverance is the first step towards investigating biology, not just chemistry on Mars through sample return. This talk will describe why Jezero Crater was selected for this mission, the types of investigations to be performed and what they expect the mission to discover.
Speakers: Dr. Janice Bishop, Dr. Pablo Sobron
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