NASA has cleared the launch for Mars rover Perseverance. It will happen at 7:50 am (1150 GMT) on July 30 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. It will land at Jezero Crater on 18 February 2021 after a seven-month journey. On-board will be a Martian meteorite discovered in Oman in 1999. It was part of the collection of the Natural History Museum (NHM) in London since 2000.The space rock known as Sayh al Uhamiyr 008 or SaU 008 is thought to have been blasted off Mars by an impact between 600,000 and 700,000 years ago.
Perseverance, the six-wheeled robot, is about the size of an SUV and weighs1,040 kilograms. This is the fifth Mars rover of NASA. It has a small helicopter called Ingenuity that will attempt to fly, a robotic arm, and an array of cameras and a pair of microphones. The aim of the mission is to look for evidence of ancient fossilized bacteria, gather rock and soil samples and bring them back to Earth for further study.
The rover’s instrument SHERLOC (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman and Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals) will use the SaU 008 meteorite as test material for on-site calibration. This will confirm that the instrument is functional before it analyses Martian rock samples.