An international scientific expedition team is conducting experimental tests on Earth for the upcoming Mars rover. The team, led by Bonnie Teece, an astrobiologist at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), tested data returned from the Red Planet.
The Rover, which is scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021, will carry experiments directly to the search for life on another planet since the Viking mission because of the 1970s. So far, the Viking mission has been looking for evidence of possible life on Mars, but Perseverance will look for biological features in rock samples.
“If you simply have a chain of evidence, it may not actually be true — because it could be a tainted disguise, or it might look like life, ” says Teece. That’s why the rover has a diverse instrument payload that can investigate and probe sediments on Mars in different ways, looking for the best candidates for life. “
To avoid similar data problems on the Fortitude, the team included researchers from Macquarie University and the University of Missouri, who took samples from the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, a dry, dusty area similar to Mars. The samples were then analyzed in the same way as the rover, but using traditional laboratory equipment and no sophisticated robotic processing systems.
These instruments can study and probe sediments on Mars in different ways to find the most suitable candidate for life. The Stamina rover is a semi-autonomous vehicle that will explore the Jezero crater on Mars, equipped with high-tech instruments to help identify rocks on the red planet.
It has a camera called Mastcam-Z, equipped with Hawkeye to identify rock samples from distant Martian landscapes that may be competitors for signs of ancient life. It is also equipped with PIXL, an instrument that uses X-ray rock chemistry to reveal the composition of the elements of the sample visible to the naked eye.
Perseverance will also have two cameras, but each camera will zoom. This will allow NASA to line up their field of view, making the field of view exactly the same on both sides, reducing processing and transmission time. The resulting image will have a variety of uses.
In addition to the aesthetic advantages, they also give the Perseverance team a better understanding of the terrain that the rover needs to cross. Geologists will also be able to use these images to select potentially interesting rocks and structures and create a shortlist of candidates for the survey. Mastcam-Z’s visual capabilities are actually much stronger, and its ultraviolet and infrared sensitivity will allow it to better perceive the different components of these rocks.