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NASA video offers behind-the-scenes look at Perseverance mission prep

A new video released by NASA takes us behind the scenes of the Mars 2020 mission.

Countdown to Mars: A Story of Perseverance (below) follows events in the four days leading up to the launch of the ambitious mission from Cape Canaveral in Florida on July 30.

In it, we see NASA chief Jim Bridenstine and others at the space agency discussing the goals of the mission that will see Perseverance (NASA’s most advanced rover to date) and Ingenuity (set to become the first aircraft to fly on another planet) conduct an array of scientific research on the Martian surface when they arrive in February 2021.

Countdown to Mars: A Story of Perseverance

The content also includes a peek inside the laboratory of Moogega Cooper, the lead engineer of Perseverance Planetary Protection, where she explains the careful steps being taken to ensure we don’t contaminate Mars with bacteria from Earth.

“That’s really what we’re trying to prevent,” Bridenstine tells Cooper. “Planetary protection is all about keeping the science as pure as possible so that when we do make discoveries, we know that they are in fact discoveries.”

The video, which is chock-full of stirring statements and bold visions for future space travel, also includes some interesting details such as a closer look at a replica of the tube that will hold the Martian soil samples collected by Perseverance as part of efforts to search for evidence of ancient life on the planet. The tubes containing the samples will be set aside on Mars and collected later by another mission set for 2026 that will attempt to return the Martian material to Earth for scientific analysis.

There’s also plenty of exciting talk about how the Mars 2020 mission is paving the way for human exploration of Mars, and is also a notable step toward the ultimate goal of making humans a multi-planetary species.

The second half of the video focuses on the imminent lift-off of United Launch Alliance’s powerful Atlas V rocket, while you also get to meet the two students — Alex Mather and Vaneeza Rupani — who won the contest to name the Mars rover and helicopter and who got to watch the launch live as part of the prize.

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Trevor Mogg
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