NASA’s Perseverance Rover Lands on Mars to Renew Search for Extinct Life
NASA safely landed a new robotic rover on Mars Thursday, launching its most ambitious effort in decades to directly study whether there was ever life on the now barren red planet.
While the agency has completed other missions on Mars, $ 2.7 billion Robot Explorer, named Perseverance, The scientific instrument that will bring advanced capabilities to search for life beyond Earth. The rover, about the size of a car, can use its sophisticated cameras, lasers to identify the chemical signatures of fossil microbial life thriving on Mars using radar penetrating Mars rocks and ground Can analyze chemical makeup. A planet filled with flowing water.
Earlier NASA missions showed that some places in the distant past were hot, wet and habitable. Now it is time to learn if there were ever any microscopic residents there.
“It is a huge undertaking that is before us, and it has the scientific potential to be truly transformative.” Mission Deputy Project Scientist Kenneth Williford said during a news conference on Wednesday. “The question is, ‘Was Mars ever a living planet?” “
Mars concentrates more and more interest from explorers on Earth. United Arab Emirates And China The two began orbiting the planet last month, already studying it from space in an arsenal of European and American spacecraft. And private entrepreneurs are looking to the neighboring world, just as Elon Musk had imagined that humans might one day live there.
The rover will accelerate a NASA plan, which will be carried out over the next decade. And it can bring samples from Mars back to Earth, Where scientists will have even more capabilities to indicate that our planet is not the only place where life has ever been found.
Will also try to make a mission A small experimental helicopter, Ingenuity, Take flight in a thin Martian environment – something never completed before. Successful testing of this Marscopter may point to new ways to explore other worlds from the surface of Mars and their skies.
A successful test of the helicopter will be “a true supernatural Wright Brothers moment,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s associate administrator for science.
NASA has landed a series of rovers on Mars since the 1990s. Each has revolutionized the human understanding of Mars.
Spirit and Opportunity Rovers, which landed in 2003, followed unmistakable signs of water flowing several billion years ago. The Curiosity Rover, which arrived in 2012, quickly discovered that its location, the 96-mile-wide Gale Crater, was once a freshwater lake, an environment that was clearly habitable, even if it were to answer. Was not equipped whether microorganisms once lived in the lake.
Strongly, by contrast, there are devices that can search for complex carbon-based molecules that may be remnants of previous microbes.
“We are looking for lifelike shapes, and lifelike creations,” Dr. Williford said. “Chemical compositions – so the elements, minerals, molecules, organic molecules that we know are related to life – we are looking for everything that is happening simultaneously.”
The setting for mission study is Jezero, a crater 30 miles wide that was once a large lake filled with river deltas. The rover would crawl along the ancient delta, which would accumulate on a pile of sediment in search of chemical signs of germs that had been extinguished due to Mars being cold and barren.
But perseverance will most likely be unable to give evidence of a past life. Another part of its mission is to be the first step in a complex robotic game of pick sticks that will eventually bring some rocks back to Earth for scientists to study.
The fixture will drill rock samples, seal them in tubes and then drop them to the surface. A rover, later from the European Space Agency, would strongly withdraw the route to take the tubes and transfer them to a small rocket that would explode into space. The samples will then be moved to another spacecraft around Mars to travel to Earth, in the early 2030s.
This month was the third consecutive robotic visitor from Earth to visit the Red Planet. Last week, two other spacecraft, Hope from the United Arab Emirates and Tianwen-1 from China, entered orbit around Mars.
But NASA’s spacecraft did not go into orbit before. Instead it is zipped along a direct passage to the surface.
At 3:48 pm Eastern time, controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s mission operations center near Pasadena, NASA, received word that it had entered the top of the Martian atmosphere at a speed of more than 12,000 per hour. The spacecraft was starting a landing maneuver that would bring it to a soft halt in just seven worry-free minutes.
Anyone on Earth could see and Hopefully performed as firmness design.
Mars is currently 126 million miles from Earth. Radio signals, traveling at the speed of light, take more than 11 minutes to travel from there. This means that when the message announcing the start of the landing sequence reached Earth, the rover was already on Mars for four minutes. The only uncertainty was whether it safely came in one piece, or crashed into several pieces, another man-made pit on the surface of Mars.
The environment at NASA’s operations center – more sparse than the previous Mars landing due to precautions required by the coronovirus epidemic – was mostly peacefully quiet.
There were periodic announcements – and applause – as the spacecraft came down through the atmosphere: deceleration and heat as it sliced through the thin Martian air, deploying a huge parachute even at it’s still speed Was supersonic, shedding the rover’s heat. Shielding so that its cameras can navigate to their destination, firing of the rocket engine may slow its descent further.
In the final stages, the rover was lowered at the end of a cable under a rocket-powered jetpack until it touched the surface.
Cheers exploded in the control room at 3:55 pm, when the solidity hit the surface.
“Touchdown confirmed,” said Swati Mohan, the engineer who provided commentary on the dynasty.
Accompanied by their task, the team members clapped and exchanged fists and fists.
NASA will first focus its attention on testing the performance of its experimental helicopter.
In the coming weeks, Perseverance will deploy a four-pound flying machine called Ingenuity. If it works, it will be the first such flight in any other world atmosphere in the solar system.
Flying on Mars is not a trivial effort. There is not much air there to push against generating lift. On the surface of Mars, the atmosphere as dense as Earth is only 1/100 th. Low gravity – a third of the Earth – helps to be airborne. But flying through the surface of Mars is like flying thin through the air which is found at an altitude of 100,000 feet on Earth.
Ingenuity is the flight equivalent of NASA’s first Mars rover’s Sojner, which landed on the Red Planet in 1997. Although it was the size of a microwave oven and was just a demonstration of the original technology, scientists could already see the benefits of driving to find out. A variety of rocks and surface features rather than sit in a place like earlier Viking landers.
With NASA’s rover on the surface, space watchers will soon turn their eyes to China’s Tianwen-1 mission. As it orbits Mars, the spacecraft is preparing for its own rover landing. In May or June, the mission’s lander and unnamed rover will try to set up in a basin called Utopia Planitia. If this succeeds, this explorer will study the ice composition of the region, potentially helping future astronauts understand what resources are available to them should they be earmarked for the Red Planet.