450-year-old meteorite from Mars to come back home with NASA’s Perseverance robot

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on July 27, 2020 Published on July 26, 2020

A small meteorite from Mars will make its way back home with NASA’s Perseverance robot as part of the United States space agency’s latest Mars mission.

Perseverance will take the meteorite that originated on the Red Planet 450 million years ago, which now resides with London's Natural History Museum (NHM), BBC News reported.

Professor Caroline Smith, head of Earth sciences collections at the NHM and a member of the Perseverance science team told BBC News: "It formed about 450 million years ago, got blasted off Mars by an asteroid or comet roughly 6,00,000-7,00,000 years ago, and then landed on Earth; we don't know precisely when but perhaps 1,000 years ago. And now it's going back to Mars.”

The rock's known properties will help NASA scientists with their study of the Red Planet and benchmark the workings of a rover instrument as the team works to find signs of life on Mars.

Perseverance is NASA’s latest Mars rover, “designed to search for astrobiological evidence of ancient microbial life on Mars.”

It is set to be launched on July 30 at 7:50 am EDT on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

It will land at Jerezo Crater on February 18, 2021, following a seven-month journey, NASA said.

“There, Perseverance will gather rock and soil samples for a future return to Earth. It also will characterize the planet's climate and geology and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet,” it said.

The countdown commentary for the launch will be on NASA Television and the agency’s website. It will also be streamed on the agency’s other social channels including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitch, Daily Motion, and Theta.TV.

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Published on July 26, 2020
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