How do you observe for a visit to Mars? This week the NASA group overseeing the Mars 2020 mission joined European and Russian colleagues from the ExoMars mission to carry out experiments within the Australian outback.
The outback is a helpful simulation of the Martian surroundings because of its excessive temperatures, low humidity, and remoteness. As each Mars 2020 and ExoMars might be looking for proof of historic life on the planet, the trials in Australia centered on discovering and figuring out tiny fossils that point out previous life existed within the space.
“The Pilbara Outback is dwelling to the oldest confirmed fossilized lifeforms on Earth, known as stromatolites,” Ken Farley, mission scientist for Mars 2020 at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, defined in an announcement. “If we are able to higher perceive how these fossils got here to be right here — and the close by geological signposts that assist level the best way to them — we’ll be that rather more ready when attempting to find indicators of life on Mars.”
Scientists with NASA’s Mars 2020 mission and the European-Russian ExoMars mission traveled to the Australian Outback to hone their analysis strategies earlier than the launch of their missions to the Purple Planet in the summertime of 2020 to seek for indicators of historic life on Mars. NASA/JPL-Caltech
The journey concerned practising analysis strategies for the extraction and identification of samples, which might be a key operate of the Mars 2020 mission. The ExoMars mission will embody a rover with a miniature chemistry lab on board for analyzing natural compounds resembling amino acids which may very well be proof of earlier life on Mars.
This isn’t the primary time that NASA scientists have made use of utmost environments on Earth to check know-how supposed to be used on Mars. NASA has run trial rover missions within the Atacama desert in Chile, which can be sizzling and dry. Different exams of the Mars 2020 rover included placing it in a freezing vacuum chamber for per week to evaluate its resilience to the tough surroundings of area.
All this testing is a key a part of a profitable mission, in response to Mitch Schulte, Mars 2020 program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Simply because the Apollo astronauts visited areas of geologic curiosity on Earth earlier than they journeyed to the Moon, the scientists of Mars 2020 and ExoMars are doing their due diligence earlier than their missions make the 100-million-plus-mile (160-million-plus-kilometer) journey to the Purple Planet,” he stated.
The Mars 2020 mission is scheduled for launch in July subsequent yr and can arrive on Mars in February 2021. The ExoMars mission will launch only a few days after Mars 2020 and may arrive on Mars in March 2021.