NASA's Perseverance rover leaves for Mars
Sylvie Claire / July 30, 2020
NASA launched its Perseverance mobile robot to Mars on Thursday, designed to discover traces of ancient life on the red planet.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket took off as planned at 7:50 a.m. (1:50 p.m. Belgian time) from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in clear skies, for a journey of nearly 7 months and 480 million kilometers.
The first stage of the rocket detached a few minutes later. NASA is now preparing for a second push, from Earth orbit, that will propel Perseverance on its course towards March.
If arrived intact, on February 18, 2021, Perseverance will be only the fifth rover to make the trip since 1997.
All so far are Americans, but China launched its first Martian rover last week, which should arrive in May 2021. Mars could therefore have three active rovers next year, with the American Curiosity, which has covered 23 km on the red planet since 2012.
The main mission of Perseverance will be to search for traces of past life on Mars. Scientists believe they have good evidence that over three billion years ago the planet was warmer and covered in rivers and lakes, ingredients that can breed germs.
ULB scientist Vinciane Debaillie is one of five researchers appointed by the European Space Agency to participate in this $ 2.7 billion mission to Mars. His job will consist of controlling the robot, documenting observations and managing data. She is also part of the scientific committee.
Moreover, to complete the Belgian aspect, this is the eleventh launch to Mars with an Atlas of which the Belgian Karel Bossart is the "father ».