Article by Tom Fish May 28, 2020 (express.co.uk)
• NASA plans to launch a Mars rover mission on July 17, 2020 to arrive on Mars’ surface on February 18, 2021. The space agency has provided new insights about the sensors that will be used on its 2020 Perseverance Rover while it traverses the Martian surface in search of evidence of alien life. A cutting-edge camera and a unique ultraviolet laser will work in tandem to analyze the chemical and mineral makeup of the Red Planet’s soil. Experts hope this can track down potential signs of past alien life.
• The main instrument, called ‘SHERLOC’ (Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals) will be mounted on the end of one of the Mars rover’s robotic arms. SHERLOC will emit a quarter-sized ultraviolet laser at the ground to enable scientists to measure the way the light scatters, in order to identify a spectral “fingerprint” revealing certain organic material and to determine what kind of minerals and chemical compounds the soil is made from. “If we see organics clumping together on one part of a rock, it might be a sign that microbes thrived there in the past,” said NASA’s Luther Beegle.
• SHERLOC will work with ‘WATSON’ (Wide Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and Engineering), another instrument that will help with the light-scattering spectroscopy and allow the Mars rover’s remote pilots to identify promising areas of the ground from which to collect samples. WATSON can also be rotated to take selfies of the Perseverance and to keep track of the rover’s condition. The Perseverance 2020 Rover will also monitor the effects of radiation on samples of human space suit fabric and helmet material to determine whether it is safe to use. The rover’s robotic arm will place the samples in half-inch wide metal tubes that will be left on Mars’ surface for a subsequent Mars mission crew to retrieve and return to Earth for detailed analysis.
US-based space agency NASA has offered new insights about the sensors used on its 2020 Perseverance rover while it traverses the Martian surface in
search of evidence of basic forms of alien life. A cutting-edge powered camera and a unique ultraviolet laser will work in tandem to monitor the Red Planet’s soil to analyse its chemical and mineral makeup.
The main instrument, the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics & Chemicals (SHERLOC), will be mounted on the end of one of the Mars rover’s robotic arms.
SHERLOC will emit a quarter-sized ultraviolet laser at the ground.
Space scientists will then measure the way the light scatters when it hits the ground to work out what kind of minerals and chemical compounds it is made from.
The technique will also identify the unique spectral “fingerprint” certain alien organic material might give off.
Extraterrestrial life experts hope this can track down potential signs of past alien life.
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