NASA’s Perseverance rover is well underway on its mission to see if there are any traces of life on the surface of Mars. The machine will spend the next few months roaming around the Martian landscape collecting samples that future missions will be bringing back to Earth.
This mission is the first official astrobiological mission that is dedicated to finding life on other planets.
The Martian samples will be able to tell us more about the planet’s past, but missions to other planets and moons in the near future could tell us more.
Before the decade is over, NASA plans on launching two more missions that will explore Jupiter’s moons Titan and Europa. Europa’s Clipper mission will launch in 2024, while Titan’s Clipper is scheduled for 2027.
Jorge Núñez, astrobiologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, who is working on teams for both Perseverance and Dragonfly said:
“Perseverance will get people thinking in terms of astrobiology and the strategy of looking for signs of past life. Missions to outer planets, like Europa and Dragonfly, will take a lot of time. But we have to be open to what we might be able to find in terms of possibilities for life. These missions are part of this strategy in trying to understand how environments evolve. Is life a more common thing, or is it rare? And what is out there?”