NASA’s equilibrium plane is heading for Mars this month, the third spacecraft.
Endurance, a robotic wheeled vehicle designed to look for signs of past life on Mars, rose from Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 7:50 a.m. Eastern Time. The launch was postponed for several weeks by a series of technical delays and overcoming the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, which required many engineers to work from home.
The target plane is the crater Lake, which was once a lake in the northern hemisphere of Mars. Scientists believe it is a promising place where the signs of ancient Martian life could be preserved if life existed on Mars.
The Atlas 5 rocket built the spacecraft away from Earth and on a trajectory to reach Mars in six and a half months. It builds on the previous July launches of the United Arab Emirates and China. As long as perseverance lasts, all three missions should reach the red planet at about the same time, in February.
For people at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California who will be responsible for directing the mission during its trip to Mars, a magnitude 4.2 earthquake provided some countdown for the countdown. It had no effect on the launch, but staff working on the mission expressed their surprise on Twitter.
A few hours after the launch, NASA had trouble communicating with the spacecraft, but officials were not interested. “It’s something we’ve seen in other missions on Mars,” said Jim Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator during the post-launch press conference.
The large radio dishes of the Deep Space Network, which communicate with a distant spaceship through the solar system, received Perseverance radio signals loudly and clearly – in fact, too loud.
As Mr. Bridenstine said, Matt Wallace, the deputy project manager, received a text message that engineers in the Jet Drive Laboratory had made adjustments to allow the dishes to lock the telemetry data.
What is an endurance rover?
Endurance is a wheeled robot with almost the same construction as the previous NASA Mars rover Curiosity, which landed in 2012. However, endurance goes to another location – the crater Jezero, which was once a lake – carrying a different set of tools. Curiosity was designed to look for a living environment and find signs of a freshwater lake. Perseverance is going a step further and looking for evidence of a past life that may have lived in a lake in the Lake.
Perseverance is also carried by several devices that are more entertaining than scientific: several cameras that record different views as the spacecraft approaches the atmosphere on its way to landing; and two microphones that will be the first to record sounds on another planet.
It also carries an experimental helicopter.
Yes, it’s called Ingenuity. The four-pound Marscopter is a technology experiment, and if it works, it will be the first powered flight to another planet. The rotors must rotate at 2,400 rpm to create buoyancy in the thin atmosphere of Mars, only one percent as dense on Earth at the surface.
How will the mission help future astronauts?
Several endurance experiments have nothing to do with the search for a past life, but could help future life on Mars – an astronaut from Earth.
One of the crucial supplies that astronauts will need is oxygen for breathing and rocket propulsion.
The Mars Oxygen In-situ Resource Utilization (MOXIE) experiment takes carbon dioxide molecules from Mars’ atmosphere and splits them into oxygen and carbon monoxide atoms.
MOXIE will try to prove that it is possible on the surface of the red planet. However, the amount of oxygen it can produce – less than an ounce per hour – is small.
“We only produce enough oxygen to keep the little dog alive,” said Michael Hecht, MOXIE’s chief investigator.
However, if this idea works, this technique could be used to a much greater extent in the future to fill the rocket. “So the astronauts in the future mission to Mars can be taken home from Mars,” he said.
Endurance also carries samples of materials used in spacesuits mounted on a target used to calibrate one of the rover’s instruments.
“When I send someone to Mars in my spacesuit, I want to make sure they stay alive all the time,” said Amy Ross, one of NASA’s spacesuit designers, at a news conference on Tuesday.
Perseverance makes repeated measurements on Mars over several years, “we can understand how our materials will last or not in this environment,” she said.
When will the mission to Mars come?
Perseverance will land on Mars on February 18 next year at 15:40 Eastern Time.
Every 26 months, Earth and Mars approach each other, allowing the fastest and most efficient trip from Earth to Mars. If the launch does not take place by mid-August, NASA would have to wait for another opportunity in 2022.
Where does endurance last and why does it work?
Crater Lake was filled with water about 3.5 billion years ago, when Mars was warmer and wetter. From orbit, the earlier NASA spacecraft spotted a dry river on one side of the Lake, and a drain channel is visible on the other side. Fan-shaped delta sediments can be observed if the river has spilled into the crater. No one knows if anything ever lived on Mars, but if it did, the Lake would be a great place to watch, scientists have decided.
Landing on Mars is difficult. The planet’s thin atmosphere is not dense enough to provide enough resistance to slow the spacecraft, such as endurance that reaches more than 12,000 miles per hour. However, the atmosphere is still dense enough to generate thousands of degrees of heat, complicating the task of slowing endurance before it explodes on the ground. Several landing attempts by NASA and other space agencies have resulted in the creation of new craters on the surface of the red planet.
However, NASA has withdrawn five consecutive successful landings. To increase the likelihood that the endurance rover will be sixth, NASA has made adjustments to a parachute that slows the spacecraft when it reaches the Martian atmosphere. This has also improved the rover’s ability to identify a smooth landing site.
What else is going to summer on Mars?
The Emirates Mars mission successfully launched a Japanese rocket on July 20.
The UAE’s space program is modest, and its quest to join the ranks of countries that have reached Mars is part of an ambitious effort to inspire Emirati youth to pursue a career in science and technology.
Her spaceship Hope orbits Mars for several years and helps scientists study the planet’s meteorological cycles.
China launched its second Tianwen-1 mission on July 23.
The country’s space program has seen several successes in recent years, including two rovers that landed on Earth’s moon, as well as a number of space stations in orbit. However, his previous attempt to enter Mars in 2011 was lost when the Russian rocket she was riding failed and burned into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The new Chinese mission includes an orbiter, lander and rover. While other countries have taken a scheduled approach to visiting Mars – first orbit, then a landing and then a rover – China emphasizes that it will try to put all these components into operation for the first time at once.
According to the four scientists involved in the mission, the orbit will study Mars and its atmosphere for approximately one Martian year or 687 days on Earth. In addition to two cameras, the spacecraft has a subsurface radar, a detector to study the Martian magnetic field, and three other scientific instruments.
Rover will try to land in the Utopia Planitia region in northwestern Mars. NASA’s Viking 2 mission touched there in 1976. Previous studies using data from the Mars Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have shown that Utopia Planitia has a layer of water ice that is equal to the level found in Lake Superior on Earth.
If he manages a dangerous landing on Mars, the rover will use a combination of cameras, penetrating earth radar, and other tools to better understand the distribution of underground ice that future human colonists on Mars could use to sustain themselves. The Chinese mission is to last about 90 Martian days.
The fourth mission, the joint Russian-European Rosalind Franklin rover, was to be launched this summer as well. However, the technical obstacles exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic could not be overcome in time. The launch is scheduled for 2022.
What other spaceships are currently studying Mars?
It’s a bit crowded around the red planet.
Six orbits are currently studying the planet from space. NASA sent three there: Mars Odyssey, launched in 2001; Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, in 2005; and MAVEN, who left Earth in 2013.
Europe has two spacecraft in orbit. Its Mars Express orbit was launched in 2003, and the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which is shared with Russia’s space program, was disbanded in 2016.
India operates the sixth spacecraft, the Mars Orbiter Mission, also known as the Mangalyaan, which was launched in 2013.
There are two American missions on the ground. Curiosity has been hovering since 2012. It is joined by the stationary landing machine InSight, which has been studying Marsquakes and other intrinsic properties of the red planet since 2018. The third US mission, Equator of Opportunity, expired in 2019 when a dust storm caused it to lose power.