On July 30, 2020, NASA sent the Mars Perseverance Rover on an Atlas V-541 rocket from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral. The launch took place at 7:50 a.m. EST. The rover is landed on Jezero Crater on Mars in February 2021. Scientists believe that the crater used to actually be a massive lake, billions of years ago. When Mars had actual liquid water on its surface, that is. Perseverance Rover’s mission is to look for signs of ancient life on the planet. Learn about Mars in your homeschool with these easy, quick resources for a fun, hands-on mini-unit.
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Mars Perseverance Rover: What is it?
A Mars Rover is a robotic vehicle designed to explore The Red Planet. You can learn more about all of the Mars Rovers on NASA’s Space Place website. The last time we were at the Kennedy Space Center, we had an opportunity to visit the Journey to Mars exhibit, which was truly inspiring. The presentation is about 30-minutes long and encourages kids to learn all they can about space and the world around them because they will be the ones carrying out future Mars missions.
What will the Perseverance Rover be doing on Mars?
The Mars Perseverance Rover has been exploring the Martian surface. It’s looking for signs of both past and present life to help assist NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. The Mars Perseverance Rover is on a two-year mission. Learn more about the Perseverance Rover surface operations procedure on the official Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover website.
Now, the Perseverance Rover isn’t the only rover we have on Mars. The Curiosity is still currently operating and sending data back to NASA regularly. The Perseverance Rover is exploring a different area of Mars and is actually starting to test the technology that is going to possibly bring humans to Mars.
Send Your Name to Mars on the Perseverance Rover
Last year I signed my youngest up for NASA’s Send Your Name to Mars campaign. Names were stenciled on chips and affixed to the rover. Each person who signs up also receives a downloadable boarding pass, so that’s really fun. You can also sign up to have your name on the rover for a future launch.
Update: 2022: This spring, Artemis I – the first uncrewed flight test of the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion spacecraft – will launch. This is just one extra step toward landing the first POC and the first woman on the Moon! Fly your name around the moon aboard NASA Artemis now!
Learn about Mars in Your Homeschool
To follow are a few resources we’re starting with to ‘launch’ this educational ‘endeavor.’
I just grabbed this NASA Mars Mission for Kids workbook and we’ll be using it to kick off our learning before the actual launch on July 30th. The book is geared for kids aged 7-12.
The book will help set the stage if you want an activity to go along with the upcoming launch. NASA Mars Mission For Kids workbook would also work well if you completely missed the launch and wanted to incorporate the landing in 2021 into your homeschool. The book also explores the Perseverance Rover siblings: Opportunity (2004), Spirit (2004), Sojourner (1997), and Curiosity (2012).
We recently used the 4M Green Science Eco-Engineering Build Your Own Wind Turbine with our The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind unit. Once the Perseverance Rover lands in 2021, I’ll likely purchase the 4M Green Science Solar Rover Kit as we watch Perseverance do its thing.
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.
For a more in-depth study, check out NASA’s #CountdowntoMars page! I always love incorporating current events into our homeschool and try to do so on a regular basis. It’s a great way to mix up the learning and get away from the curriculum for a while. Hands-on activities can really help solidify learning.
If you’re looking for additional supplementation as you learn about the Perseverance Rover, the Mars Base Camp 4H STEM Challenge is well worth the money. My 10-year-old and I worked through some of the activities in the kit, and we’ll return to it in subsequent lessons.
In it for the Long Haul
I was excited to learn that the Mars Perseverance Rover would be sending samples back to scientists. What I didn’t realize back in 2020 when it launched, was that the samples wouldn’t come back for another several years!
The Perseverance Rover is the first of its kind to be able to send actual, tangible samples to Earth. Unfortunately, they won’t be in scientists’ hands until 2031. My son was shocked to realize that he’d be twenty years old before it happened!
So if we’re eagerly anticipating seeing what these samples look like, can you imagine what the scientists are feeling. The Mars Sample Return plan (MSR) encompasses three missions that will occur over the span of 10 years. If your kids are really interested in learning more about the rock samples that Persevance Rover will be collecting, this article from CBS news, has some very detailed and interesting information.