NEW YORK -- On Thursday, NASA will launch rover Perseverance on its mission to Mars. Rebekah Sosland Siegfriedt shared her excitement on the mission as NASA's Systems Engineer for Testing Rover Before Launch and Operating on the Martian Surface.
"My job will be maintaining its health and safety, so I'll be checking on its power, it's thermal capabilities and its communication to make sure the science can be done," she said.
The rover will be on a two-year mission, which is actually 1 year in Mars time, where it hopes to study the planet's ability to host human life.
"It's going to take a lot of effort and it's going to take a lot of equipment, and that's why the instrumentation on this rover is the way it is, so we can actually ensure that humans can survive on Mars for, you know, a longer period of time, maybe even years," Sosland Siegfriedt said.
Scientists believe that ancient Mars was warmer and had rivers and oceans. Scientists and engineers hope to find out if there was ever any kind of life on the red planet.
NASA's most recent previous rover, Curiosity, answered many profound questions about Mars, but each time a question gets answered, many more questions get opened up.
Rover Opportunity lasted much longer than anticipated, 15 years! While Perseverance's mission is just two-Earth-years-long, NASA hopes that it can continue its work beyond that time frame.
Perseverance will be the first to gather and store samples of Martian rocks and soil for future return to Earth, and test important technology for future human exploration of Mars.
Perseverance will also have a sidekick: the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter, a separate technology experiment that will be the first helicopter to attempt to fly on another planet.
Another really exciting part of this launch is that Perseverance is traveling to Mars with nearly 11 million names stenciled on it.
This time last year, NASA put a call out for people to submit their name to be sent to Mars and got submissions from all over the world.
The launch of Mars rover Perseverance happens Thursday at 7:50 a.m. EDT. You can watch it live on NASA's YouTube Channel.
Live coverage and countdown commentary will begin at 7 a.m.
As for when the rover will land, that will take some time. Perseverance is scheduled to land at the Jezero Crater on February 18, 2021.
Also, for budding young scientists and engineers, Sosland Siegfriedt said that she was inspired by watching Spirit and Opportunity land on Mars back when she was in 8th grade! "When i was young i never thought that being a woman and being a girl from a small town in texas could ever work at NASA, but if you're interested and there's a dream that you have i say reach out and go for it do whatever you can do to get there because if i can do it you can do it too."
What's next for her? Sosland Siegfriedt hopes to be part of the Mars sample return or "maybe somewhere else in the solar system!"
FULL INTERVIEW WITH REBEKAH SOSLAND SIEGFRIEDT