While engineers were putting the final touches on the Perseverance Rover, the previous Rover Curiosity has been running reliably on Mars for many years and to this day, it is still providing data. While it could not discover current life forms, the basic question whether Mars could have once supported an environment for primitive life forms was a clear “yes”, according to NASA scientists. So, the aim was clear – bring more sophisticated tools on the next Mars mission. PI precision motion control equipment was selected again – a tiny positioning stage for focus control in the SuperCam on the Perseverance Rover.
The SuperCam combines visible and IR spectrometers, a laser, and a camera to examine rocks and soils for traces of organic compounds hinting to the possibility of former life. More on the SuperCam
On the previous mission, the Curiosity Rover already identified carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur, nitrogen, and phosphorus – all key ingredients for life. This knowledge is based on data from the onboard ChemLab, where powder drilled out of a sedimentary rock is analyzed.