NASA rover faces 'seven minutes of terror' before landing on Mars

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NASA rover faces 'seven minutes of terror' before landing on Mars
Author of the article:
Reuters
Reuters
Steve Gorman
Publishing date:
Feb 17, 2021 • 15 hours ago • 4 minute read
A full scale model of the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover is displayed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) on Feb. 16, 2021 in Pasadena, Calif. Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON /AFP via Getty Images
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LOS ANGELES — When NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance, a robotic astrobiology lab packed inside a space capsule, hits the final stretch of its seven-month journey from Earth this week, it is set to emit a radio alert as it streaks into the thin Martian atmosphere.

By the time that signal reaches mission managers some 127 million miles (204 million km) away at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, Perseverance will already have landed on the Red Planet – hopefully in one piece.

The six-wheeled rover is expected to take seven minutes to descend from the top of the Martian atmosphere to the planet’s surface in less time than the 11-minute-plus radio transmission to Earth. Thus, Thursday’s final, self-guided descent of the rover spacecraft is set to occur during a white-knuckled interval that JPL engineers affectionately refer to as the “seven minutes of terror.”

Al Chen, head of the JPL descent and landing team, called it the most critical and most dangerous part of the $2.7 billion mission.
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“Success is never assured,” Chen told a recent news briefing. “And that’s especially true when we’re trying to land the biggest, heaviest and most complicated rover we’ve ever built to the most dangerous site we’ve ever attempted to land at.”

Much is riding on the outcome. Building on discoveries of nearly 20 U.S. outings to Mars dating back to Mariner 4’s 1965 flyby, Perseverance may set the stage for scientists to conclusively show whether life has existed beyond Earth, while paving the way for eventual human missions to the fourth planet from the sun. A safe landing, as always, comes first.

Success will hinge on a complex sequence of events unfolding without a hitch – from inflation of a giant, supersonic parachute to deployment of a jet-powered “sky crane” that will descend to a safe landing spot and hover above the surface while lowering the rover to the ground on a tether.

“Perseverance has to do this all on her own,” Chen said. “We can’t help it during this period.”

If all goes as planned, NASA’s team would receive a follow-up radio signal shortly before 1 p.m. Pacific time confirming that Perseverance landed on Martian soil at the edge of an ancient, long-vanished river delta and lake bed.

SCIENCE ON THE SURFACE

From there, the nuclear battery-powered rover, roughly the size of a small SUV, will embark on the primary objective of its two-year mission – engaging a complex suite of instruments in the search for signs of microbial life that may have flourished on Mars billions of years ago.
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Advanced power tools will drill samples from Martian rock and seal them into cigar-sized tubes for eventual return to Earth for further analysis – the first such specimens ever collected by humankind from the surface of another planet.

Two future missions to retrieve those samples and fly them back to Earth are in the planning stages by NASA, in collaboration with the European Space Agency.

Perseverance, the fifth and by far most sophisticated rover vehicle NASA has sent to Mars since Sojourner in 1997, also incorporates several pioneering features not directly related to astrobiology.

Among them is a small drone helicopter, nicknamed Ingenuity, that will test surface-to-surface powered flight on another world for the first time. If successful, the four-pound (1.8-kg) whirlybird could pave the way for low-altitude aerial surveillance of Mars during later missions.

Another experiment is a device to extract pure oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere, a tool that could prove invaluable for future human life support on Mars and for producing rocket propellant to fly astronauts home.

‘SPECTACULAR’ BUT TREACHEROUS

The mission’s first hurdle after a 293-million-mile (472-million-km) flight from Earth is delivering the rover intact to the floor of Jezero Crater, a 28-mile-wide (45-km-wide) expanse that scientists believe may harbour a rich trove of fossilized microorganisms.

“It is a spectacular landing site,” project scientist Ken Farley told reporters on a teleconference.
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What makes the crater’s rugged terrain – deeply carved by long-vanished flows of liquid water – so tantalizing as a research site also makes it treacherous as a landing zone.

The descent sequence, an upgrade from NASA’s last rover mission in 2012, begins as Perseverance, encased in a protective shell, pierces the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 miles per hour (19,300 km per hour), nearly 16 times the speed of sound on Earth.

After a parachute deployment to slow its plunge, the descent capsule’s heat shield is set to fall away to release a jet-propelled “sky crane” hovercraft with the rover attached to its belly.

Once the parachute is jettisoned, the sky crane’s jet thrusters are set to immediately fire, slowing its descent to walking speed as it nears the crater floor and self-navigates to a smooth landing site, steering clear of boulders, cliffs and sand dunes.

Hovering over the surface, the sky crane is due to lower Perseverance on nylon tethers, sever the chords when the rover’s wheels reach the surface, then fly off to crash a safe distance away.

Should everything work, deputy project manager Matthew Wallace said, post-landing exuberance would be on full display at JPL despite COVID-19 safety protocols that have kept close contacts within mission control to a minimum.

“I don’t think COVID is going to be able to stop us from jumping up and down and fist-bumping,” Wallace said.

 
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spaminator

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NASA rover Perseverance hurtles toward historic landing attempt on Mars
Author of the article:
Reuters
Reuters
Steve Gorman
Publishing date:
Feb 18, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 3 minute read
This handout file illustration obtained March 5, 2020, courtesy of NASA shows the Mars rover Perseverence. Photo by NASA /AFP via Getty Images / Files
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LOS ANGELES — NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance hurtled into the final stretch of its seven-month journey from Earth en route to a nail-biting landing attempt Thursday on an ancient, alien lake bed, where scientists hope to find signs of fossilized microbial life.

Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology lab ever flown to another world, was headed for a self-guided touchdown inside a vast, rocky basin called Jezero Crater at the edge of a remnant river delta carved into the red planet billions of years ago.

Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory near Los Angeles hope to receive confirmation of the landing, and possibly a first image from the rover, shortly after its arrival, set for 12:55 p.m. PST. Those transmissions will be relayed to Earth from one of several satellites already in orbit around Mars.

What makes Jezero Crater’s terrain – deeply etched by long-vanished flows of liquid water – so tantalizing to scientists also makes it especially treacherous as a landing site.
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“It’s full of the stuff that scientists want to see but stuff that I don’t want to land on,” Al Chen, head of JPL’s descent and landing team, told reporters on Wednesday.

Getting Perseverance to its destination in one piece after its 293-million-mile journey, he added, is far from assured.

The multi-stage spacecraft, streaking into the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 miles per hour, must perfectly and swiftly execute a complex series of self-guided maneuvers to slow its descent, avoid myriad surface hazards and plant itself gently upright on all six wheels.

The seemingly far-fetched sequence includes a perilous parachute deployment at supersonic speed and a rocket-powered “sky crane” designed to detach from the entry capsule, fly to a safe landing spot and lower the rover on tethers, before zipping off to crash a safe distance away.

The entire process is set to unfold in a heart-pounding interval NASA engineers half-jokingly refer to as the “seven minutes of terror.”

Because it takes radio waves 11 minutes to travel one way between Mars and Earth, the SUV-sized rover will have already reached the Martian surface – intact or not – by the time its atmospheric entry signal is received at mission control.

NASA scientists describe Perseverance as the most ambitious of nearly 20 U.S. missions to Mars dating back to a 1965 Mariner fly-by.

Larger and packed with more instruments than the four Mars rovers preceding it, the latest mobile robotic probe would build on previous discoveries that the fourth planet from the sun was once warmer, wetter and possibly hospitable to life.
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The primary objective of Perseverance’s two-year, $2.7 billion endeavour is to search for signs of microbes that may have flourished on Mars some 3 billion years ago, about the time life was emerging on Earth.

Scientists hope to find biosignatures embedded in samples of ancient sediments that Perseverance is designed to extract from Martian rock for analysis back on Earth – the first such specimens ever collected by humankind from another planet.

Two future missions are planned to retrieve the samples and return them to NASA in the next decade.

Perseverance’s payload also includes demonstration projects that could help pave the way for eventual human exploration of Mars, including a device to convert the carbon dioxide in Mars’ atmosphere into pure oxygen.

The box-shaped tool is the first built to extract a natural resource of direct use to humans from an extraterrestrial environment, according to Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s planetary science division. It would prove invaluable for future life support on Mars and for producing rocket propellant to fly astronauts home.

Another experimental prototype carried by Perseverance is a miniature helicopter designed to test the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. If successful, the 4-pound whirlybird could lead to low-altitude aerial surveillance of distant worlds, JPL officials said.

Should it safely land, Perseverance will have company elsewhere on the red planet. Its immediate predecessor, the rover Curiosity, which landed in 2012 and has far outlived its design life, remains in operation for NASA, as does the stationary lander InSight, which arrived in November 2018 to study the deep interior of Mars.

The United States is hardly alone in its fascination with Mars. Just last week, separate probes launched by the United Arab Emirates and China reached Mars orbit. NASA has three Mars satellites still in orbit, along with two from the European Space Agency.
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Blackleaf

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31 minutes to go. I'm watching live on my phone in the kitchen as I make corned beef hash.
 

Blackleaf

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It's landed.

And as soon as it landed, just moments ago, it took this photo:

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Blackleaf

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Second picture in now​

The second photo taken by Perseverance has just arrived.

The camera lenses are still dusty from the landing, according to scientists.

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Helicopter to be switched on tomorrow​



The first aircraft to fly on another planet.

The helicopter onboard Perseverance, Ingenuity, will switch on tomorrow, says top scientist Mimi Aung who is in charge of the helicopter programme.

Five flight missions are planned in the next 30 days, which will hopefully provide high quality images of the Martian surface.

They will be the first flights done remotely on the surface of another planet.

"Being able to to fly will enable us to get to hard to reach places," like cliff-sides, she says, and other "areas of high scientific interest".

"It will be game changing," she says, with a massive smile beaming across her face.

Colour images, she says, "will be the icing on the cake".

 

spaminator

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NASA's Perseverance sends first images of Martian surface after historic landing
Author of the article:

Reuters
Steve Gorman
Publishing date:
Feb 19, 2021 • 1 hour ago • 4 minute read

This NASA photo shows the first images from NASA's Perseverance rover as it landed on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021. Photo by NASA /AFP via Getty Images
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LOS ANGELES — NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance, the most advanced astrobiology lab ever sent to another world, streaked through the Martian atmosphere on Thursday and landed safely inside a vast crater, the first stop on a search for traces of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.
Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles burst into applause, cheers and fist-bumps as radio beacons signaled that the rover had survived its perilous descent and arrived as planned on the floor of Jezero Crater, site of a long-vanished Martian lake bed.




The six-wheeled vehicle came to rest about 2 kilometers from towering cliffs at the foot of a remnant fan-shaped river delta etched into a corner of the crater billions of years ago and considered a prime spot for geo-biological study on Mars.
“Touchdown confirmed,” Swati Mohan, the lead guidance and operations specialist announced from the control room. “Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars.”

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The robotic vehicle sailed through space for nearly seven months, covering 293 million miles (472 million km) before piercing the Martian atmosphere at 12,000 miles per hour (19,000 km per hour) to begin its descent to the planet’s surface.
Moments after touchdown, Perseverance beamed back its first black-and-white images from the Martian surface, one of them showing the rover’s shadow cast on the desolate, rocky landing site.




Because it takes radio waves 11 minutes to travel from Mars to Earth, the SUV-sized rover had already reached Martian soil by the time its arrival was confirmed by signals relayed to Earth from one of several satellites orbiting Mars.
The spacecraft’s self-guided descent and landing during a complex series of maneuvers that NASA dubbed “the seven minutes of terror” stands as the most elaborate and challenging feat in the annals of robotic spaceflight.

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Acting NASA chief Steve Jurczyk called it an “amazing accomplishment,” adding, “I cannot tell you how overcome with emotion I was.”
Deputy Project Manager for the rover, Matt Wallace, said the descent and landing systems “performed flawlessly.”
The landing represented the riskiest part of two-year, $2.7 billion endeavor whose primary aim is to search for possible fossilized signs of microbes that may have flourished on Mars some 3 billion years ago, when the fourth planet from the sun was warmer, wetter and potentially hospitable to life.
Scientists hope to find biosignatures embedded in samples of ancient sediments that Perseverance is designed to extract from Martian rock for future analysis back on Earth – the first such specimens ever collected by humankind from another planet.




Two subsequent Mars missions are planned to retrieve the samples and return them to NASA in the next decade, in collaboration with the European Space Agency.
Thursday’s landing also came as a triumph for a pandemic-weary United States, still gripped by economic and social upheaval from the COVID-19 pandemic. The public health crisis emerged in the months before the rover was launched in July and complicated execution of the Mars mission.

This handout file illustration obtained March 5, 2020, courtesy of NASA shows the Mars rover Perseverence. Photo by NASA /AFP via Getty Images / Files
U.S. President Joe Biden, watching NASA coverage of the event at the White House, tweeted his congratulations, saying, “Today proved once again that with the power of science and American ingenuity, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.”
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In a special salute in keeping with virtual communications emblematic of the era, the JPL webcast included a Zoom-like video collage flashing the faces of hundreds of Perseverance team members from home offices where many worked remotely through the pandemic.

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SEARCH FOR ANCIENT LIFE
NASA scientists have described Perseverance as the most ambitious of nearly 20 U.S. missions to Mars dating back to the Mariner spacecraft’s 1965 fly-by.
Larger and packed with more instruments than the four Mars rovers preceding it, Perseverance is set to build on previous findings that liquid water once flowed on the Martian surface and that carbon and other minerals altered by water and considered precursors to the evolution of life were present.
Perseverance’s payload also includes demonstration projects that could help pave the way for eventual human exploration of Mars, including a device to convert the carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere into pure oxygen.
The box-shaped tool, the first built to extract a natural resource of direct use to humans from an extraterrestrial environment, could prove invaluable for future human life support on Mars and for producing rocket propellant to fly astronauts home.
Another experimental prototype carried by Perseverance is a miniature helicopter designed to test the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. If successful, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) helicopter could lead to low-altitude aerial surveillance of distant worlds, officials said.




The daredevil nature of the rover’s descent to the Martian surface, at a site that NASA described as both tantalizing to scientists and especially hazardous for landing, was a momentous achievement in itself.
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The multi-stage spacecraft carrying the rover soared into the top of Martian atmosphere at nearly 16 times the speed of sound on Earth, angled to produce aerodynamic lift while jet thrusters adjusted its trajectory.
A jarring, supersonic parachute inflation further slowed the descent, giving way to deployment of a rocket-powered “sky crane” vehicle that flew to a safe landing spot, lowered the rover on tethers, then flew off to crash a safe distance away.
Extra cameras designed to shoot video of Perseverance as it plunged toward the surface are believed to have captured the first footage ever recorded of a spacecraft descending onto another planet, JPL officials said. That video may be ready to show the world as early as next week, Wallace said.
Perseverance’s immediate predecessor, the rover Curiosity, landed in 2012 and remains in operation, as does the stationary lander InSight, which arrived in 2018 to study the deep interior of Mars.
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Blackleaf

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New imagery of the descent of the Perseverance rover to the surface of Mars has been released, including imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

 

Blackleaf

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Mars is the only planet that we know of whose only known inhabitants are alien robots.
 

Blackleaf

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Where is Perseverance landing? Amazing Jezero Crater flyover from Mars orbiter​

The ancient crater lake is named after Jezero, a village in Bosnia and Herzegovina. "Jezero" means "lake" in Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Slovene, Czech and Slovak.

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spaminator

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Mars rover beams back selfie from moment before landing
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Steve Gorman
Publishing date:Feb 19, 2021 • 13 hours ago • 3 minute read

NASA's Perseverance rover descends to touch down on Mars in a still image from a video camera aboard the descent stage taken February 18, 2021. PHOTO BY NASA/JPL-CALTECH /Handout via REUTERS
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LOS ANGELES — NASA scientists on Friday presented striking early images from the picture-perfect landing of the Mars rover Perseverance, including a selfie of the six-wheeled vehicle dangling just above the surface of the Red Planet moments before touchdown.

The colour photograph, likely to become an instant classic among memorable images from the history of spaceflight, was snapped by a camera mounted on the rocket-powered “sky crane” descent-stage just above the rover as the car-sized space vehicle was being lowered on Thursday to Martian soil.


The image was unveiled by mission managers during an online news briefing webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles less than 24 hours after the landing.

The picture, looking down on the rover, shows the entire vehicle suspended from three cables unspooled from the sky crane, along with an “umbilical” communications cord. Swirls of dust kicked up by the crane’s rocket thrusters are also visible.

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Seconds later, the rover was gently planted on its wheels, its tethers were severed, and the sky crane – its job completed – flew off to crash a safe distance away, though not before photos and other data collected during the descent were transmitted to the rover for safekeeping.

The image of the dangling science lab, striking for its clarity and sense of motion, marks the first such close-up photo of a spacecraft landing on Mars, or any planet beyond Earth.


“This is something we’ve never seen before,” Aaron Stehura, a deputy lead for the mission’s descent and landing team, describing himself and colleagues as “awe-struck” when first viewing the image.

Adam Steltzner, chief engineer for the Perseverance project at JPL, said he found the image instantly iconic, comparable to the shot of Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon in 1969, or the Voyager 1 probe’s images of Saturn in 1980.

He said the viewer is connected with a landmark moment representing years of work by thousands of individuals.

“You are brought to the surface of Mars. You’re sitting there, seven metres off the surface of the rover looking down,” he said. “It’s absolutely exhilarating, and it is evocative of those other images from our experience as human beings moving out into our solar system.”

The image was taken at the very end of the so-called “seven-minutes-of-terror” descent sequence that brought Perseverance from the top of Mars’ atmosphere, traveling at 12,000 miles per hour, to a gentle touchdown on the floor of a vast basin called the Jezero Crater.

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In this handout image provided by NASA, the first high-resolution, colour image to be sent back by the Hazard Cameras (Hazcams) on the underside of NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover after its landing in the area known as Jezero crater on February 18, 2021 on the planet Mars. (NASA via Getty Images)
Next week, NASA hopes to present more photos and video – some possibly with audio – taken by all six cameras affixed to the descending spacecraft, showing more of the sky crane maneuvers, as well as the supersonic parachute deployment that preceded it.

Pauline Hwang, strategic mission manager, said the rover itself “is doing great and is healthy on the surface of Mars, and continues to be highly functional and awesome.”

The vehicle landed about two kilometers from tall cliffs at the base of a ancient river delta carved into the corner of the crater billions of years ago, when Mars was warmer, wetter and presumably hospitable to life.

Scientists say the site is ideal for pursuing Perseverance’s primary objective – searching for fossilized traces of microbial life preserved in sediments believed to have been deposited around the delta and the long-vanished lake it once fed.


Samples of rock drilled from the Martian soil are to be stored on the surface for eventual retrieval and delivery to Earth by two future robotic missions to the Red Planet, as early as 2031.

Another colour photo published on Friday, captured moments after the rover’s arrival, shows a rocky expanse of terrain around the landing site and what appear to be the delta cliffs in the distance.

The mission’s surface team will spend the coming days and weeks unfastening, unfurling and testing the vehicle’s robot arm, communication antennae and other equipment, aligning instruments and upgrading the rover’s software, Hwang said.

She said it would be about nine “sols,” or Martian days, before the rover is ready for its first test spin.

One of Perseverance’s tasks before embarking on its search for signs of microbial life will be to deploy a miniature helicopter it carried to Mars for an unprecedented extraterrestrial test flight. But Hwang said that effort was still about two months away.
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spaminator

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WATCH: Mars rover sends home movie of daredevil descent
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Steve Gorman
Publishing date:Feb 23, 2021 • 17 hours ago • 3 minute read

A portion of a panorama made up of individual images taken by the Navigation Cameras, or Navcams, aboard NASA's Perseverance Mars rover shows the landscape on Mars, Feb. 20, 2021. PHOTO BY NASA / JPL-CALTECH / HANDOUT /REUTERS
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LOS ANGELES — NASA scientists on Monday unveiled first-of-a-kind home movies of last week’s’ daredevil Mars rover landing, vividly showing its supersonic parachute inflation over the red planet and a rocket-powered hovercraft lowering the science lab on wheels to the surface.

The footage was recorded on Thursday by a series of cameras mounted at different angles of the multi-stage spacecraft as it carried the rover, named Perseverance, through the thin Martian atmosphere to a gentle touchdown inside a vast basin called Jezero Crater.


Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, called seeing the footage “the closest you can get to landing on Mars without putting on a pressure suit.”

The video montage was played for reporters tuning in to a news briefing webcast from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles four days after the historic landing of the most advanced astrobiology probe ever sent to another world.


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NASA also presented a brief audio clip captured by microphones on the rover after its arrival that included the murmur of a light wind gust – the first ever recorded on the fourth planet from the sun.

JPL imaging scientist Justin Maki said NASA’s stationary landing craft InSight, which arrived on Mars in 2018 to study its deep interior, previously measured seismic signals on the planet that were “acoustically driven” and then “rendered as audio.”

But mission deputy project manager Matt Wallace said he believed the Martian breeze represented the first ambient sound directly recorded on the surface of Mars and played back for humans.

The spacecraft’s mics failed to collect useable audio during descent to the crater floor. But they did pick up a mechanical whirring from the rover after its arrival. Wallace said he hoped to record other sounds, such as the rover’s wheels crunching over the surface and its robotic arm drilling for samples of Martian rock.

NASA's Mars Perseverance rover's onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam), which is located high on the rover's mast and aids in driving, shows the surrounding area on Mars in an image acquired Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.
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NASA's Mars Perseverance rover's onboard Left Navigation Camera (Navcam), which is located high on the rover's mast and aids in driving, shows the surrounding area on Mars in an image acquired Monday, Feb. 22, 2021.
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But it was film footage from the spacecraft’s perilous, self-guided ride through Martian skies to touchdown – an interval NASA has dubbed “the seven minutes of terror” – that JPL’s team found particularly striking.

“These videos, and these images are the stuff of our dreams,” Al Chen, head of the descent and landing team, told reporters. JPL Director Mike Watkins said engineers spent much of the weekend “binge-watching” the footage.

The video, filmed in colour at 75 frames a second, shows action in fluid, vivid motion from several angles, the first such imagery ever recorded of a spacecraft landing on another planet, Wallace said.

One of the most dramatic moments is of the red-and-white parachute being shot from a canon-like launch device into the sky above the rover as the spacecraft is hurtling toward the ground at nearly two times the speed of sound.

The chute springs upward, unfurls and fully inflates in less than two seconds, with no evidence of tangling within its 2 miles (3.2 km) of tether lines, Chen said.


A downward-pointing camera shows the heat shield falling away and a sweeping vista of the butterscotch-coloured Martian terrain, appearing to shift back and forth as the spacecraft sways under the parachute.

Seconds later, an upward-pointed camera captures the rocket-powered “sky-crane” vehicle, newly jettisoned from the parachute, its thrusters firing but the propellant plumes invisible to the human eye while lowering the rover to a safe landing spot on a harness of tethers.

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A separate camera shows the lowering of the six-wheeled rover from the vantage point of the sky crane, looking downward as Perseverance dangles from its cable harness just over the surface with streams of dust billowing around it at touchdown. The sky crane is then seen flying up and away from the landing site after the harness cables are cut.

A single still photo of the rover suspended from the sky crane moments before landing was released by NASA on Friday amid much fanfare as a precursor to the video shown on Monday.

The only previous moving footage produced of a spacecraft during a Mars landing was a comparatively crude video shot from beneath the previous rover, Curiosity, during its descent to the planet’s surface in 2012. That stop-motion-like sequence was shot at 3.5 frames per second from a single angle that showed the ground gradually getting closer but included no images of the parachute or sky-crane maneuvers.
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Blackleaf

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Perseverance sees Jezero Crater rim in 360° Mars panorama​

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Perseverance spots sky crane's Mars impact plume after touchdown​

 
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AureaOlivas

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I find this really really interesting. It was amazing ho NASA handled Perseverance. The name was also worth it because they really preserved a lot just to make this mission possible. It was really amazing.
 
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taxslave

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I love rocks. Look at these right next to my wheel. Are they volcanic or sedimentary? What story do they tell? Can’t wait to find out.


From here they look like leveright.
 
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spaminator

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Mars rover Perseverance takes first spin on surface of red planet
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Steve Gorman
Publishing date:Mar 05, 2021 • 14 hours ago • 2 minute read • comment bubbleJoin the conversation
This NASA image released on March 5, 2021, was captured while NASA's Perseverance rover drove on Mars for the first time on March 4, 2021.
This NASA image released on March 5, 2021, was captured while NASA's Perseverance rover drove on Mars for the first time on March 4, 2021. PHOTO BY NASA/JPL-CALTECH /AFP via Getty Images
Article content
LOS ANGELES — NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance has taken its first, short drive on the surface of the red planet, two weeks after the robot science lab’s picture-perfect touchdown on the floor of a massive crater, mission managers said on Friday.

The six-wheeled, car-sized astrobiology probe put a total of 6.5 metres (21.3 feet) on its odometer on Thursday during a half-hour test spin within Jezero Crater, site of an ancient, long-vanished lake bed and river delta on Mars.


Taking directions from mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles, the rover rolled 4 metres (13.1 feet) forward, turned about 150 degrees to its left and then drove backward another 2.5 metres (8.2 feet).

“It went incredibly well,” Anais Zarifian, a JPL mobility test engineer for Perseverance, said during a teleconference briefing with reporters, calling it a “huge milestone” for the mission.

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NASA displayed a photo taken by the rover showing the wheel tread marks left in the reddish, sandy Martian soil after its first drive.

Another vivid image of the surrounding landscape shows a rugged, ruddy terrain littered with large, dark boulders in the foreground and a tall outcropping of rocky, layered deposits in the distance — marking the edge of the river delta.


Some additional, short-distance test driving is planned for Friday. Perseverance is capable of averaging 200 metres of driving per day.

But JPL engineers still have additional equipment checks to run on the rover’s many instruments before they will be ready to send the robot on a more ambitious journey as part of its primary mission to search for traces of fossilized microbial life.

So far, Perseverance and its hardware, including its main robot arm, appear to be operating flawlessly, said Robert Hogg, deputy mission manager. The team has yet to conduct post-landing tests of the rover’s sophisticated system to drill and collect rock samples for return to Earth via future Mars missions.

NASA announced it has named the site of Perseverance’s Feb. 18 touchdown as the “Octavia E. Butler Landing,” in honor of the award-winning American science-fiction writer. Butler, a native of Pasadena, California, died in 2006 at age 58.
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Mars on Earth: Turkish lake may hold clues to ancient life on planet
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Yesim Dikmen
Publishing date:Mar 09, 2021 • 9 hours ago • 2 minute read • comment bubbleJoin the conversation
A general view of Salda Lake in Burdur province, Turkey, March 1, 2021. The official Twitter account of NASA Earth mentioned lake Salda in their tweet a day before NASA rover Perseverance touched down on Mars. Picture taken with a drone on March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas ORG XMIT: HFS-ANK18
A general view of Salda Lake in Burdur province, Turkey, March 1, 2021. The official Twitter account of NASA Earth mentioned lake Salda in their tweet a day before NASA rover Perseverance touched down on Mars. Picture taken with a drone on March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Umit Bektas ORG XMIT: HFS-ANK18
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LAKE SALDA — As NASA’s rover Perseverance explores the surface of Mars, scientists hunting for signs of ancient life on the distant planet are using data gathered on a mission much closer to home at a lake in southwest Turkey.

NASA says the minerals and rock deposits at Salda are the nearest match on earth to those around the Jezero Crater where the spacecraft landed and which is believed to have once been flooded with water.


Information gathered from Lake Salda may help the scientists as they search for fossilized traces of microbial life preserved in sediment thought to have been deposited around the delta and the long-vanished lake it once fed.

“Salda … will serve as a powerful analog in which we can learn and interrogate,” Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, told Reuters.

A team of American and Turkish planetary scientists carried out research in 2019 on the shorelines of the lake, known as Turkey’s Maldives because of its azure water and white shores.

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Scientists believe that the sediments around the lake eroded from large mounds that are formed with the help of microbes and are known as microbialites.

The team behind the Perseverance rover, the most advanced astrobiology lab ever flown to another world, wants to find out whether there are microbialites in Jezero Crater.


They will also compare the beach sediments from Salda with carbonate minerals – formed from carbon dioxide and water, a key ingredient for life – detected on the margins of Jezero Crater.

“When we find something at Perseverance we can go back to look at Lake Salda to really look at both processes, (looking at) similarities but equally importantly differences that are really between Perseverance and Lake Salda,” Zurbuchen said.

“So we are really glad we have that lake, just because I think it will be with us for a long time.”

Samples of rock drilled from Martian soil are to be stored on the surface for eventual retrieval and delivery to Earth by two future robotic missions, as early as 2031.
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Mars helicopter flight test promises Wright Brothers moment for NASA
Author of the article:Reuters
Reuters
Steve Gorman
Publishing date:Apr 18, 2021 • 9 hours ago • 3 minute read • Join the conversation
This NASA photo obtained on April 6, 2021, shows Ingenuity helicopter seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rovers rear Hazard Camera on April 4, 2021.
This NASA photo obtained on April 6, 2021, shows Ingenuity helicopter seen on Mars as viewed by the Perseverance rovers rear Hazard Camera on April 4, 2021. PHOTO BY HANDOUT/NASA/JPL-CALTECH /AFP via Getty Images
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LOS ANGELES — NASA hopes to score a 21st-century Wright Brothers moment on Monday as it attempts to send a miniature helicopter buzzing over the surface of Mars in what would be the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.

Landmark achievements in science and technology can seem humble by conventional measurements. The Wright Brothers’ first controlled flight in the world of a motor-driven airplane, near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903 covered just 120 feet (37 metres) in 12 seconds.


A modest debut is likewise in store for NASA’s twin-rotor, solar-powered helicopter Ingenuity.

If all goes to plan, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) whirligig will slowly ascend straight up to an altitude of 10 feet (3 metres) above the Martian surface, hover in place for 30 seconds, then rotate before descending to a gentle landing on all four legs.

While the mere metrics may seem less than ambitious, the “air field” for the interplanetary test flight is 173 million miles from Earth, on the floor of a vast Martian basin called Jezero Crater. Success hinges on Ingenuity executing the pre-programmed flight instructions using an autonomous pilot and navigation system.

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“The moment our team has been waiting for is almost here,” Ingenuity project manager MiMi Aung said at a recent briefing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) near Los Angeles.

NASA itself is likening the experiment to the Wright Brothers’ feat 117 years ago, paying tribute to that modest but monumental first flight by having affixed a tiny swath of wing fabric from the original Wright flyer under Ingenuity’s solar panel.


The robot rotorcraft was carried to the red planet strapped to the belly of NASA’s Mars rover Perseverance, a mobile astrobiology lab that touched down on Feb. 18 in Jezero Crater after a nearly seven-month journey through space.

Although Ingenuity’s flight test is set to begin around 3:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Monday (0730 GMT Monday), data confirming its outcome is not expected to reach JPL’s mission control until around 6:15 a.m. ET on Monday.

NASA also expects to receive images and video of the flight that mission engineers hope to capture using cameras mounted on the helicopter and the Perseverance rover, which will be parked 250 feet (76 metres) away from Ingenuity’s flight zone.

If the test succeeds, Ingenuity will undertake several additional, lengthier flights in the weeks ahead, though it will need to rest four to five days in between each to recharge its batteries. Prospects for future flights rest largely on a safe, four-point touchdown the first time.

“It doesn’t have a self-righting system, so if we do have a bad landing, that will be the end of the mission,” Aung said. An unexpectedly strong wind gust is one potential peril that could spoil the flight.

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NASA hopes Ingenuity – a technology demonstration separate from Perseverance’s primary mission to search for traces of ancient microorganisms – paves the way for aerial surveillance of Mars and other destinations in the solar system, such as Venus or Saturn’s moon Titan.


While Mars possesses much less gravity to overcome than Earth, its atmosphere is just 1% as dense, presenting a special challenge for aerodynamic lift. To compensate, engineers equipped Ingenuity with rotor blades that are larger (4-feet-long) and spin more rapidly than would be needed on Earth for an aircraft of its size.

The design was successfully tested in vacuum chambers built at JPL to simulate Martian conditions, but it remains to be seen whether Ingenuity will fly on the red planet.

The small, lightweight aircraft already passed an early crucial test by demonstrating it could withstand punishing cold, with nighttime temperatures dropping as low as 130 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 90 degrees Celsius), using solar power alone to recharge and keep internal components properly heated.

The planned flight was delayed for a week by a technical glitch during a test spin of the aircraft’s rotors on April 9. NASA said that issue has since been resolved.