There’s still plenty to learn about Mars, and three missions reaching the red planet in 2021 will expand our knowledge. First up is NASA’s newest Martian rover, Perseverance. Launched on July 30, 2020, Perseverance will be the fifth rover (there have also been several stationary landers such as the most recent InSight probe) to reach Mars. Check out the July launch below. It should be timestamped correctly, but launch happens around 48 minutes, 30 seconds.
To become the fifth rover to explore Mars, Perseverance will have to slow itself from 12,100 miles per hour to just 2 miles per hour over seven minutes on February 18, 2021.
The rover’s primary mission is to search for signs of ancient life and gather rock and soil samples for a potential retrieval mission in the future. Perseverance is also bringing a small helicopter with it called Ingenuity. This part of the mission is a tech demo to see if powered flight can work in Mars’ thin atmosphere.
On April 23, China hopes for a successful first mission to Mars. That’s when its Tianwen-1 rover will attempt to land on the red planet. This mission includes an orbiter and a rover. The orbiter is armed with a suite of instruments including radar, spectrometer, magnetometer, and more to study Mars from orbit. If it lands successfully, the rover half of the mission will cruise around the Utopia Planitia region.
China isn’t the only country reaching Mars for the first time. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched its Hope mission back in July.
UAE’s space agency describes the probe as “Mars’ first weather satellite.” It’ll keep tabs on Mars’ weather changes every day across all its seasons. The Hope satellite will also look at the link between weather changes on Mars and atmospheric loss that turned the planet into the barren land we see today.
It’s going to be a busy 2021 for space agencies/companies across the world.