German technology on Mars

Washington (dpa) – After a flight time of around six months, the US rover “Perseverance” is scheduled to land on Mars on Thursday. Launched from Cape Canaveral Spaceport at the end of July 2020, the robot of the US space agency NASA is scheduled to touch down at around 21.30 CET in a risky manoeuvre in a dried-up lake called “Jezero Crater” that has never been studied on site before.

NASA’s “Perseverance” rover, which cost about 2.5 billion dollars (about 2.2 billion euros), was designed and built over a period of about eight years and is to search for traces of former microbial life on Mars, as well as explore the planet’s climate and geology. The robot, which weighs about 1,000 kilograms and is the size of a small car, has seven scientific instruments, 23 cameras and a laser on board.

German technology will also be deployed during the mission. The Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology in Jena has developed thermal sensors that will conduct contactless measurements of the surface temperature on Mars in order to better understand the conditions on the red planet. And Jenoptik is supplying lenses that will deliver the first images of Mars.

The rover is expected to make numerous NASA premieres possible: “Perseverance” will take microphones and a small helicopter to Mars for the first time, and for the first time samples from Mars will be brought back to Earth in this joint mission with the European space agency ESA.

If “Perseverance” succeeds in landing, it will be the fifth rover that NASA has brought to Mars. Less than half of all Mars missions launched worldwide have been successful so far.

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