NASA Perseverance Mars. The Apollo astronauts hauled home 842 lbs.

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[ NASA’s Perseverance rover launch kicks off audacious Mars sample-return project ]

NASA’s car-sized Perseverance Mars rover launched yesterday (July 30), kicking off a nearly seven-month cruise to the Red Planet.’

Live Updates: NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance mission in real time More: NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover to the Red Planet (photos)

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NASA has conducted sample-return missions before. The Apollo astronauts hauled home 842 lbs. (382 kilograms) of moon rocks between 1969 and 1972, for example, and the agency’s Stardust mission returned flecks of comet dust to Earth in January 2006.’

Date: 2020-07-31T12:00:43Z
Author: Mike Wall
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NASA’s Perseverance rover launch kicks off audacious Mars sample

In addition, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission is preparing to snag samples of the asteroid Bennu, which will make it here in September 2023 if all goes according to plan. And NASA isn’t alone in the sample-return game. Japan’s Hayabusa2 probe will land pieces of the asteroid Ryugu this December, and the original Hayabusa returned grains of the stony asteroid Itokawa to Earth in 2010.

Consider the campaign that Perseverance’s launch just initiated. The nuclear-powered rover will snag a few dozen carefully selected samples, storing the precious material in sterile tubes that will be cached somewhere in Jezero Crater. (Perseverance might also hold onto some of the samples, mission team members have said.)

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Countdown to Mars: three daring missions take aim at the red planet

The US rover Perseverance will land in Mars’s Jezero Crater (circled in yellow).Credit: Emily Lakdawalla/ISRO/ISSDC

Three times in the coming month or so, rockets will light their engines and set course for Mars. A trio of nations ‘ the United States, China and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) ‘ will be sending robotic emissaries to the red planet, hoping to start new chapters of exploration there.

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NASA hopes that its mission to Mars ‘ a six-wheeled, three-metre-long rover named Perseverance ‘ will be the start of a much bigger journey. If all goes to plan, Perseverance will extract and store samples of Martian rocks that a future mission will one day pick up and bring back to Earth, possibly by 2031. It would be the first-ever sample return from Mars.

Date: 2020-07-07
Twitter: @nature
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