I am very much interested in mars exploration programs and I am a researcher on mars missions. This article is part of my research.
Top 5 Mars exploration Programs till date:
#1.Perseverance, NASA's newest Mars rover:
Did life ever arise on Mars? For years, NASA’s Mars Exploration Program has been systematically trying to find out. The agency’s Spirit and Curiosity showed that liquid water once existed on the surface. Building on that discovery, NASA's Curiosity rover found conditions on Mars around 4 billion years ago could have supported life as we know it. Now, Perseverance will directly search for signs of past life.
Perseverance exit from the earth on July 30 2020 by accepting and added challenge of the global COVID-19 pandemic. On 18 February 2021, it landed in Jezero crater, the site of an ancient lake and river delta. There, the rover will search for microbial fossils in rocks that formed in Mars warm, wet past. It will also look for carbon-containing molecules called organics that form the building blocks of life on Earth. Not since 1976 has NASA directly searched for life on Mars, when the dual Viking landers performed long-shot chemistry experiments that turned up inconclusive results.
Perseverance will also collect soil and rock samples as it travels and store them in tubes that the future mission’s pf NASA and European Space Agency will collect. Despite technological advances in making small, low-power science instruments for space missions, many types of laboratory analyses still can’t be performed in space or can’t be done very precisely.
The mission is projected to cost $2.7 billion.
#2.Tianwen-1 and Zhurong, China's Mars orbiter and rover:
Water doesn’t currently exist on mars surface, but it used to billions of years ago. We know this from dramatic dry canyons and river channels seen from orbit, as well as minerals on the surface that only form in liquid water. Around 3 billion years ago, something happened to Mars’ atmosphere, and most of the liquid water evaporated. But some of it may still be underground, safely shielded from harmful solar radiation that bombards the planet’s surface. Could those ancient pockets of water contain life?
China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission launched on July 23, 2020 amidst the added challenge of the global COVID pandemic. It will, among other things, search for pockets of water using radar mounted on the Zhurong rover. The European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft found evidence for surface using radar from orbit, but along with Perseverance this will be the first time a rover has searched from the ground.
Need of Tianwen-1
Tianwen-1 will give China valuable Mars experience and lay the groundwork for a possible sample return mission planned for the end of the 2020. Getting Martian samples back to Earth is a top priority for the scientific community. Despite the impressive advances made in placing miniature science instruments on spacecraft, only Earth-bound technology can date samples with absolute precision, reproduce scientific results, and verify the presence or absence of life in a sample.
Before Zhurong only NASA has successfully landed and operated spacecraft on Mars. More countries exploring Mars and our solar system means more discoveries and opportunities for global collaboration. Space exploration brings out the best in us all, and when nations work together everyone wins.
#3.Hope, the United Arab Emirates' Mars mission:
What happened to Mars' atmosphere?
Mars is a cold, dry, desert, with a carbon dioxide-filled atmosphere 100 times thinner than Earth’s. But it wasn’t always like that. We know liquid water once flowed on its surface, supported by an atmosphere that may have been favourable to life.
But then something happened. About 3 billion years ago-right around the time life arose on Earth-Mars lost its magnetic field. On Earth, our magnetic field shields us from the solar wind, the constant stream of charged particles coming from the Sun. Without a magnetic field for protection, the solar wind stripped away much of Mars’ atmosphere, eventually transforming the planet into its current state.
How is Hope studying Mars' atmosphere?
Hope is building a complete picture of the Martian atmosphere and study how Mars’ climate changes over time. This will give scientists deeper insight into ancient Mars and whether the planet could have once supported life. It will also help us understand how our own planet’s climate is changing, and what the consequences of those changes.
Hope also demonstrates the promise and importance of international space exploration. The mission is managed by the United Arab Emirates, with participation from scientists and engineers at U.S. universities. Japan launched the spacecraft. Space exploration brings us all together, and when more nations participate and collaborate, everyone wins.
#4.InSight- NASA’s Mars Lander:
Why We Need InSight lander?
Space exploration missions to the red planet have taught us that for at least some periods of time 3 to 4 billion years ago, Mars had conditions that could have spotted life as we know it. Then, Mars lost its magnetic field and the sun stripped its atmosphere.
Why did this happen on Mars, but not Earth?
To learn this we need to learn about Mars-soil interior. NASA's InSight spacecraft, an acronym for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, launched to Mars in May 2018 and landed later that year in November. Its mission is to learn more about how Mars interior is layered so scientists can compare Mars with what we know about other planets and Earth.
One of InSight's primary science instruments, a heat-flow probe known as the mole, failed to work because the soil at the landing site was different than predicted. InSight is now operating in an extended mission, listening for Mars-quakes that will help us learn more about what lies beneath the Martian surface.
NASA will spend $814 million on InSight over the project's lifetime. The Planetary Society.
#5.MARS ORBITER MISSION OR MANGALYAAN
The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or Mangalyaan, is a space probe launched by the Indian Space Research Organization on November 5, 2013.
Mangalyaan was India's first interplanetary mission. The indigenously built space probe has been in the Martian orbit since September 24, 2014. The mission made India the first Asian country, and the fourth in the world after Roscosmos, NASA, and the European Space Agency, to get to the planet. China referred to India's successful Mangalyaan as the "Pride of Asia".
On November 23, 2008, the then-ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair acknowledged ISRO Mars mission. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the project on August 3, 2012.
Objective of Mangalyaan:
India's Mangalyaan mission is aimed at studying Martian atmosphere. Its objective is to explore Martian surface features, mineralogy, morphology and atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments. A crucial objective of MOM was to develop technologies required in planning, designing, management and operations of an interplanetary mission.
MOM was launched aboard PSLV C-25 (an XL version of the PSLV). It carried 850 kg of fuel and 5 science payloads including a Mars Colour Camera (MCC) which it has been using to study the Martian surface and atmosphere since entering the orbit successfully.
ISRO spent $75 million to launch the mission, making it the least-expensive Mars mission to date.
On September 28, 2014, MOM controllers published the spacecraft's first global view of Mars. The image was captured by the Mars Colour Camera (MCC). Over these years, MCC has captured over 980 images that were released to the public.
© 2021 Boddepalli v s s Udaynadh
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on June 04, 2021: