Topic: Red Planet
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft launched 20 years ago on April 7th, 2021 making it the oldest spacecraft still working at the Red Planet.
The orbiter, which takes its name from Arthur C. Clarke’s classic sci-fi novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” (Clarke blessed its use before launch), was sent to map the composition of the Martian surface, providing a window to the past so scientists could piece together how the planet evolved.
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter is two days away from making humanity’s first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet.
If all proceeds as planned, the 4-pound (1.8-kg) rotorcraft is expected to take off from Mars’ Jezero Crater Sunday, April 11th, at 12:30pm local Mars solar time (9:54pm CDT, 7:54pm PDT), hovering 10 feet (3 meters) above the surface for up to 30 seconds.
Washington, D.C. – The weather often plays a role in our daily plans. You might put on a light jacket when the forecast calls for a cool breeze or delay your travel plans because of an impending storm. NASA engineers use weather data to inform their plans, too, which is why they’re analyzing the conditions millions of miles away on Mars.
The Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) system aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover first powered on for 30 minutes on February 19th, approximately one day after the rover touched down on the Red Planet. Around 8:25pm PST that same day, engineers received initial data from MEDA.
Pasadena, CA – “Tango delta. Touchdown confirmed. Perseverance safely on the surface of Mars, ready to begin seeking the signs of past life.” For more than six years, the Mars Entry, Descent, and Landing Instrumentation 2 (MEDLI2) team waited to hear these words.
NASA’s Perseverance rover successfully landed on February 18th, 2021, beginning its robotic exploration of the Red Planet. MEDLI2 was one of the crucial technologies on the rover’s protective aeroshell that helped document the entry, descent, and landing (EDL) of the spacecraft. All of the MEDLI2 data was stored on Perseverance for transmission to Earth after a successful landing.
Pasadena, CA – At the start of March, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover began approaching an impressive rock formation that scientists dubbed “Mont Mercou,” a nickname taken from a mountain in France. Standing about 20 feet (6 meters) tall, the outcrop is captured in all its majesty in a new selfie, as well as in a pair of panoramas that offer a 3D view.
The selfie shows Curiosity in front of Mont Mercou with a new drill hole nearby at a rock sample nicknamed “Nontron” – the mission’s 30th sample to date.
Washington, D.C. – NASA is targeting no earlier than April 8th, 2021 for the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter to make the first attempt at powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet. Before the 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) rotorcraft can attempt its first flight, however, both it and its team must meet a series of daunting milestones.
Ingenuity remains attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover, which touched down on Mars on February 18th. On March 21st, the rover deployed the guitar case-shaped graphite composite debris shield that protected Ingenuity during landing.
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Mars Perseverance Rover recorded audio of itself crunching over the surface of the Red Planet, adding a whole new dimension to Mars exploration.
As the Perseverance rover began to make tracks on the surface of Mars, a sensitive microphone it carries scored a first: the bangs, pings, and rattles of the robot’s six wheels as they rolled over Martian terrain.
“A lot of people, when they see the images, don’t appreciate that the wheels are metal,” said Vandi Verma, a senior engineer and rover driver at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. “When you’re driving with these wheels on rocks, it’s actually very noisy.”
Washington, D.C. – Billions of years ago, according to geological evidence, abundant water flowed across Mars and collected into pools, lakes, and deep oceans.
New NASA-funded research shows a substantial quantity of its water – between 30 and 99% – is trapped within minerals in the planet’s crust, challenging the current theory that due to the Red Planet’s low gravity, its water escaped into space.
Early Mars was thought to have enough water to have covered the whole planet in an ocean roughly 100 to 1,500 meters (330 to 4,920 feet) deep – a volume roughly equivalent to half of Earth’s Atlantic Ocean.
Washington, D.C. – NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover performed its first drive on Mars on March 4th, covering 21.3 feet (6.5 meters) across the Martian landscape.
The drive served as a mobility test that marks just one of many milestones as team members check out and calibrate every system, subsystem, and instrument on Perseverance. Once the rover begins pursuing its science goals, regular commutes extending 656 feet (200 meters) or more are expected.
Pasadena, CA – The giant canopy that helped land Perseverance Rover on Mars was tested here on Earth at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
Test. Test again. Test again.
Testing spacecraft components prior to flight is vital for a successful mission.
Rarely do you get a do-over with a spacecraft after it launches, especially those bound for another planet. You need to do everything possible to get it right the first time.
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