NASAs Mars Rover Carries Laser Retroreflectors

Feb, 2021 - By WMR

NASAs Mars Rover Carries Laser Retroreflectors

The same reflectors will also fly with the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) ExoMars rover and NASA’s InSight lander.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA’s) Perseverance Mars rover was launched on July 30, 2020, at 11.50 UTC from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. It will land on February 2021 in the Jezero crater on Mars. During the Apollo mission, astronauts brought retroreflectors with them. The ground staff fired lasers at them and calculate the time it took for the beams to return. It delivered accurate measurements of the Moon's orbit and shape. Now, NASA plans to repeat similar experiments on Mars.

The Mars rover carries with it a set of pristine mirrors that will serve as targets for future orbital spacecraft equipped with high-precision lasers. It can help scientists understand how gravity affects the alien world, and may one day help secure autonomous investigations on the Martian surface. The retroreflectors carried by NASA’s Mars rover follow a completely different design and are much smaller than those used during the Apollo missions. Moreover, the same reflectors will also fly with the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) ExoMars rover and NASA’s InSight lander.

ESA’s ExoMars rover is scheduled to launch in 2022. The launch date of the perseverance rover has been changed three times, first to July 20, then to July 22, and then to July 30 due to logistical disruptions and technical problems caused by the novel coronavirus (the global pandemic). The Perseverance Mars rover will use new maps designed by the United States Geological Survey's Astrogeology Science Center. The high-resolution maps accurately indicate surface hazards/dangers around the landing site. Moreover, it will be the first Mars mission to search for direct signs of life since the 1976 Viking missions. Moreover, the rover will collect samples of Martian soil to bring back to Earth for future research.

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