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"Perseverance:" The Mars Rover Mission:

Ever since people realized that a few "stars" in the night sky were actually planets like Earth, many have wondered whether any forms of life also existed there: perhaps primitive single-cell organisms, small life forms, and potentially even animals and species of intelligent life.

With the development of the theory of evolution in the late 19th century, people began to understand of how single-celled life, animals, and intelligent life may have evolved on Earth. In our Solar System, two additional planets -- Venus and/or Mars -- seemed like they might possibly be other homes for life. Mercury is probably much too hot. The remaining planets from Jupiter to Neptune, and Pluto are probably much too cold.

When astronomers found that most stars in our galaxy -- the "Milky Way" -- have planets revolving around them, people wondered if life exists or had existed in many other places throughout the universe -- wherever stars had planets revolving around them which were in the "Goldilocks zone" -- now called the "habitable zone." These are regions where liquid water could be present.

Our sun is a Type G stars, and has existed for about five billion years. It will eventually expand in size and approach that of the Earth's orbit, killing all human and other life. That will happen perhaps 5 billion years in our future. If earth-based humanity is to survive, we will probably need to relocate to another solar system. That would be quite impossible to achieve with todays technology. But there is no way to accurately predict what may be possible in the future. It might be a mission involving a few people, and containers of human ova and spermatozoa. After landing, these would be combined and placed in artificial wombs to generate a large group of humans --sufficient to prevent inbreeding.

"Mars 2020" refers to NASA's exploration of Mars. It includes the rover "Perseverance" and the helicopter drone "Ingenuity" which lowered the rover to the planet's surface." They were launched towards Mars on 2020-JUL-30 and landed on 2021-FEB-18.

The mission is expected to last 687 Earth days (equal to 668 sols¬ or Mars days). It will attempt to identify the presence of subsurface water, develop improved landing techniques, and characterize weather, dust, and other potential environmental conditions that could affect future astronauts living and working on Mars. Perseverance will collect samples and organize them in piles to be picked up by future missions, perhaps in the early 2030's. It will attempt to create small samples of pure Oxygen from Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere of Mars. Future manned missions would require some mechanism of creating Oxygen for consumption by the crew.

It will explore the Jezero Crater which scientists believe was a 250 meter --820 ft -- wide lake back 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago. It currently contains a great deal of sediment which may have preserved microscopic fossils of primitive life.

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