NASA’s 2020 rover ‘Perseverance’ will make Mars Closer

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The new NASA’s Mars rover is a life-hunting, sample-caching robot that is scheduled to be launched this summer. On March 5, 2020, the agency officials announced that the new rover would be named Perseverance.

This name suits the car-sized rover and its groundbreaking mission. Today, we are going to present to you some awesome facts about NASA’s latest Mars rover Perseverance [1].


  • How was the new Mars rover named?
  • What is the mission of NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance?
  • What are some of NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance features?
  • Is there a naming tradition related to all the Red Planet’s rovers?
  • When will NASA’s new Mars rover Perseverance be launched?
NASA's 2020 Rover
Credit: NASA

How was the new Mars rover named?

All previous Mars rovers, and Perseverence included, have been named via a nationwide student competition. This contest started last year and drew 28,000 essay submissions from K-12 students [2].

The vast pool was culled to 155 semifinalists, which were whittled further to nine this past January. The nine students included three proposals from each of the three age categories – grades K-4, 5-8, 9-12. The finalists and the names they proposed were:

  • Oliver Jacobs, K-4, from Virginia – Endurance
  • Eamon Reilly, K-4, from Pennsylvania – Tenacity
  • Amira Shanshiry, K-4, from Massachusetts – Promise
  • Alexander Mather, 5-8, from Virginia – Perseverance
  • Hadley Green, 5-8, from Mississippi – Vision
  • Nora Benitez, 5-8, from California – Clarity
  • Vaneeza Rupani, 9-12, from Alabama – Ingenuity
  • Anthony Yoon, 9-12, from Oklahoma – Fortitude
  • Tori Gray, 9-12, from Louisiana – Courage
NASA's 2020 Rover perseverance
Credit: NASA

The public was encouraged by NASA to vote for their favorite names, but Zurbuchen held the final decision. As the winner of the contest, Mather will get a free trip to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to watch the Perseverance launch in July.x

In his interview, Mather stated that he loves space and science, and wishes to become a NASA space engineer when he grows up.

What is the mission of NASA's Mars rover Perseverance?

The prime goal of Perseverance is to search for signs of ancient life on the Red Planet. The first time a NASA surface craft has actively hunted for possible Martian life was when the twin Viking landers did so from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s [3].

The crater named Jezero is an excellent place to start this work, NASA officials have stressed. This cratered once harbored a lake and a river delta some billions of years ago.

Mars rover Perseverance crew
Credit: NASA

This leads to the possibility that life may have once flourished there, and could have left lasting evidence of its existence. On Earth, river deltas are great at preserving biosignatures.

The rover will search for such signs using its powerful instruments. Another task of Perseverance is to collect and cache several dozen samples of pristine.

This means that it will deliver the materials to Earth, where scientists can continue the hunt using even more advanced equipment in labs around the world.

If everything goes according to plan, these samples could be here as early as 2031. Perseverance will do a lot of other work as well, from characterizing the crater’s geology to helping pave the way for human exploration of Mars, which NASA aims to achieve in the 2030s.

What are some of NASA's Mars rover Perseverance features?

The rover is equipped with a powerful seven-instrument suite. It has ground-penetrating radar instruments that will help in its lookout for deposits of subsurface water ice, which is a valuable resource for astronaut pioneers [4].

Mars rover Perseverance features
Credit: NASA

Other instruments are specialized in analyzing the production of oxygen from the thin, carbon-dioxide dominated Martian atmosphere. But there is more.

The Perseverance rover is also carrying a small helicopter scout, which will make brief forays to show that rotorcraft can indeed explore the Red Planet air.

The rover is also equipped with 23 cameras and two microphones, which can potentially allow us to hear the sounds of Mars for the first time ever. Only two other rovers carried such receivers, but one of them crashed, and the other one’s microphone was never turned on.

Mars rover Perseverance
Credit: NASA

Perseverance is about as big as a car – around 10 feet long, except for its arm, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet tall – around 3 meters long, 2.7 meters wide, and 2.2 meters tall.

It weighs less than a compact car, having around 2,260 pounds / 1,035 kilograms. The rover’s parts are similar to what any living creature would need to keep it “alive” and able to explore:

Parts of Perseverance Mars rover :

  1. Body – structure which protects the rover’s essential “organs.”
  2. Brains – computers for processing information
  3. Temperature controls – internal heaters, a layer of insulation, and more
  4. Neck and head – a mast for cameras – human-scale viewability
  5. Eyes and ears – cameras and instruments allowing environmental data collection
  6. Arm and hand – extended reach, and the ability to collect rocks
  7. Wheels and legs – parts for mobility
  8. Electrical power – batteries and power
  9. Communications – antennas for “speaking” and “listening.”
Mars rover Perseverance parts
Credit: NASA

Is there a naming tradition related to all the Red Planet's rovers?

The answer is yes, schoolkids named every rover sent to Mars through NASA’s programs. The first-ever wheeled Mars explorer, Sojourner, was deployed in 1997. It was named by Valerie Ambroise, a 12-year old from Connecticut [5].

The twin NASA rovers, Spirit and Opportunity that landed on Mars three weeks apart in 2004, were named by Sofi Collis, a third-grader from Arizona.

Mars rover Perseverance
Credit: NASA

The car-sized Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars’s Gale Crater since 2012, was named by Clara Ma, a sixth-grader from Kansas. The body of the Perseverence rover is modeled on Curiosity.

Perseverence will use the same sky-crane descent and landing system as its predecessor. However, there is a more profound link between the two rovers.

The new rover will extend the work done by Curiosity, or at least it aims to do so. Curiosity’s accomplishments determined that the Gale Crater was capable of supporting Earth-like life a few years ago.

The ties between the two rovers have been acknoweledged by scientists, and even their names go well together since exploration is all about Curiosity and Perseverance.

When will NASA's new Mars rover Perseverance be launched?

Perseverance will land inside the Red Planet’s 28 mile / 45-kilometer Jezero Crater on February 2021. The rover will be launched in July 2020 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Mars rover Perseverance sky-crane
Credit: NASA

Its mission is speculated to take at least two years, exploring the landing site region. It will test new technology for the benefit of both the future robotic and human exploration of Mars.

Once landed, the rover will kick off a $2.5 billion mission, expectations are high, issues can occur, but Perseverance might just live after its name and succed.

Did you know?

– Perseverance is not the only rover headed towards Mars. The European Space Agency is preparing to send their first rover to the Red Planet as well. The rover has been named Rosalind Franklin, after the British DNA pioneer. Its mission is very similar in nature to Perseverance.

– It’s not just Europe and America; China is planning to send a spacecraft to Mars – both a rover and orbiter. The United Arab Emirates also has plans to send an orbiter to Mars in 2020.

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