Welcome, Mars fans! Later this summer, NASA will launch the Mars Rover Perseverance. Since ancient times, humans have been fascinated with Mars. It has earned the nickname of The Red Planet, and has been the setting for countless science fiction stories.
Why Explore Mars?
Mars is thought to be the most Earth-like planet in our solar system, which captures the imagination of people who hope to visit it someday. But if that is ever to become a reality, there are many questions we need to answer first. NASA and other research organizations are launching new tools to gather information about Mars.
Colin White is a NASA Solar System Ambassador, and he has prepared a series of videos that explain the history and reasons for Mars exploration. He will also talk about what NASA hopes to learn from the Perseverance mission, and how the rover is equipped to study and collect data.
We hope you enjoy this series of short talks on the Mars 2020 mission. Grab a cup of coffee or a snack, and learn a bit more about our neighboring planet!
Mars 2020 Coffee Break video #1:
In this video, Colin covers questions like:
- Why is it called The Red Planet?
- Who was the first person to view Mars through a telescope in 1610?
- Are there really canals on Mars?
- Can humans live on Mars?
- How do we get to Mars?
- How is reaching Mars like throwing a football?
- How long does it take for a craft to reach Mars from Earth?
Mars 2020 Coffee Break video #2:
In this video, Colin explains some of the things that make Perseverance so special. For example, the Perseverance will be equipped with a helicopter, a laser to break down rock samples, a weather station, and a module that will produce oxygen from carbon dioxide.
Watch and listen for answers to these questions:
- How does NASA drive a rover on Mars?
- How does it work without an astronaut on board?
- What are some of the special features on the Perseverance Rover?
Mars 2020 Coffee Break video #3:
The Perseverance will carry a helicopter, called Ingenuity. You can print out this template (thanks, NASA!) and make your own paper helicopter. Try changing the way you fold the paper to change the direction the helicopter turns.
Here is more information on NASA’s Mars 2020 mission. You might also like this series of free, printable “Explorers Wanted” posters!
If you enjoy coding, try building your own Mars helicopter video game in Scratch.