Engineered as part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program and slated for a morning blastoff on Thursday, July 30 atop an Atlas V rocket, the spacecraft's Ingenuity helicopter drone and Perseverance rover will traverse and navigate the vast depression of the Jezero Crater when it arrives on Mars Feb. 18, 2021. But there's much more to the mission than dazzling engineering.
Professor Caroline Smith, from the Natural History Museum, will study the mineralogy and geochemistry of the different rocks found in the crater.
Dr Keyron Hickman-Lewis, who is preparing to join the museum, will study the palaeoenvironments of sedimentary horizons exposed in Jezero crater and the potential for signatures of ancient microbial life preserved within.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: "UK scientists and researchers continue to play an indispensable role in the most impressive global space missions, helping to further our understanding of our extraordinary solar system".
NASA's Perseverance rover headed for Mars this week officially cleared all required Flight Readiness Reviews, pushing the mission one step closer to its launch pad rollout and liftoff. "I wish the mission every success".
If there was life on Mars, then that opens up the whole possibility for planets and other solar systems.
These instruments will analyse scientifically interesting samples from the surface.
Selected samples will be collected by drilling down to almost three inches (7cm) and then sealed in special sample tubes and stored on the rover.
One of the remarkable aspects of NASA's 2020 Mars exploration project is the reference to the Sherlock Holmes series.
With eight successful Mars landings, NASA is upping the ante with its newest rover.
The fact is that analyzing rocks and minerals so far from home in search of traces of life - one of Perseverance's main objectives - is impossible to do with 100 percent accuracy. Other planned activities will be to test a process for producing breathable oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, locating any other precious resources like subsurface water, and identifying weather patterns, dust, and other hazardous environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts.