Connect with us

Science

2021 Space Calendar: NASA's Perseverance landing, SpaceX Starship tests and more – CNET

Published

 on


The year 2020 AD did not turn out exactly as we would have liked down on Earth. But in space, it did prove to be momentous.

SpaceX and NASA delivered astronauts to the International Space Station (twice!) aboard the Crew Dragon capsule, Japan and China brought back extraterrestrial rock to Earth and NASA scooped up some space chunks from asteroid Bennu. Excitement for Mars peaked in July, when three missions departed for the red planet. The Mars-bound spacecraft, from NASA, China and the United Arab Emirates, are en route now. They’re set to arrive early in 2021.

Last year, to keep all of you in the know, CNET launched the SPACE CALENDAR (all caps for dramatic cosmic effect), covering all the big rocket launches, mesmerizing meteor showers, epic eclipses and even an assortment of scientific milestones. In 2021, we’re back at it again. You can find all the key dates for space missions below, with meteor showers and events without a date toward the end of the piece.

Our always-updating Google calendar can be synced with your own calendar so you never miss a thing. That big button below? That’s how you add it.

You can also use another calendar with this link, which will allow you to download our calendar file and add it to a provider of your choice, like Outlook.

There are many more rocket launches each year than those listed below, but they’re so often subject to change that we’ve decided to leave them off this big list. The best advice is to always keep an eye on CNET’s Science page and sign up for our space and science newsletter if you want to ensure you’re getting launch updates from the likes of SpaceX, Rocket Lab and Blue Origin. We’ll also endeavor to shift things around on the Google calendar as soon as we have information, so keep your eyes peeled.

***

Are we missing anything? You can email or tweet me with any glaring omissions.

***

[Feb. 2] Starship SN9 test explodes on landing

SN9 goes BANG.

SpaceX

Remember the incredible explosion of SpaceX’s SN8 prototype in December? SpaceX considers that a success on its way to a fully fledged spacecraft that can get to orbit and — eventually — to Mars. In late 2020 or early 2021, Elon Musk’s spaceflight company expects to send the next numbered prototype on its way. Its three powerful Raptor engines are attached and it has been wheeled onto the launchpad, so the prototype is likely to fly early in 2021.

The SN9 test finally achieved liftoff on Feb. 2, 2021 after SpaceX and the FAA traded barbs over launch safety waivers. It was another spectacular test and, as you can see in the image above, it ended with another explosion. SN10 is vertical at the company’s Boca Chica facility — so it’s likely to fly soon. Check back here and we’ll keep you updated.

[Feb. 9] Hope inserts itself into Mars’ orbit

The Hope probe (Al Amal) will circle Mars on a 55 day orbit, analyzing its atmosphere. 

MBRSC

The United Arab Emirates’ Hope (Al Amal) probe, which was launched in July 2020, performed a Mars Orbital Insertion (MOI) on Feb. 9, slipping into the clutches of the red planet’s gravity. The maneuver makes the UAE just the fifth nation to reach Mars, following the US, Russia, China and India. 

The orbiter will observe Mars from space and examine its atmosphere with a suite of three instruments, including a high resolution camera. Just take a look at the first photo from Hope to see what we can expect in years to come.

Want to know more about the journey to Mars for the UAE? Read about it here.

[Feb. 10] Tianwen-1 arrives at Mars

Tianwen-1 on its way to Mars, hoping to make China the third nation to successfully land on the red planet.

Chinese Lunar Exploration Program

China’s Tianwen-1 (“Questions to Heaven”) spacecraft is carrying a Martian orbiter, lander and rover as cargo and made its own insertion just a day after Hope. The Chinese mission will not release it’s lander or rover immediately to the surface. It’s expected to release those vehicles sometime in May. 

The rover has a lifespan of around 92 days and Li Zhencai, deputy commander of the project, told CCTV the mission will be completed around “the end of August.”

[Feb. 18] NASA’s Perseverance rover lands on Mars

NASA’s mission trailer shows the Perseverance rover making a dramatic landing on Mars.

NASA JPL

Perseverance will touch down on Mars on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021, at approximately 12:30 p.m. PT (3:30 p.m. ET). It will have to go through the famous Seven Minutes of Terror, slowing down from an extreme speed of around 12,000 miles per hour to a full stop on the surface in just 420 seconds. It’s set to be a huge year for Martian robots and specifically, the quest to find signs of ancient life on the red planet. Along with Perseverance, China’s Tianwen-1 lander and rover will also be putting Mars dirt under the microscope — however, it’s not expected to touch down until later in the year.

More: NASA launches next Mars rover: Everything you need to know about Perseverance

[March 25] Boeing Starliner OFT-2 launch

The CST-100 Starliner lands back on US soil, airbags full.

NASA/Bill Ingalls

The CST-100 Starliner, a cone-shaped spacecraft designed to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, has had its fair share of ups and downs. The first Orbital Flight Test in December 2019 (wow, it was that long ago?) experienced an “anomaly” with the spacecraft’s clock which meant it didn’t reach the ISS as it had intended and, instead, safely landed back in the desert two days later.

Boeing will now perform a second uncrewed orbital flight test to get the Starliner ready to carry crew. If it all goes successfully, it could pave the way for astronauts to be launched within the capsule later in the year. Fingers crossed.

[March 2021] The Large Hadron Collider powers up again

The Large Hadron Collider will recommence operations in 2021.

Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

The Large Hadron Collider, the highest-energy particle collider on the planet, has been powered down since Dec. 10, 2018. In March, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) flick it back on again.

The collider has been instrumental in testing predictions of theories in particle physics, including discovery of the Higgs boson, or the “God particle” (just don’t call it that in front of any particle physicists).

Its third observational run or “Run 3” should kick off in 2022, with a period of commissioning and magnet training to get things up to scratch for examining the atomic world in March. It will then be shut down in 2025 and upgraded again, for its fourth run in 2027. I’m putting this in a space calendar, because, physics is everywhere. Let me have this one. It’s cool.

[April/May] China’s Tianwen-1 rover lands on Mars

An artist’s impression of the three spacecraft China will send to Mars in the coming weeks.

Nature Astronomy

Tianwen-1, China’s triple threat mission to Mars, left Earth in July and is scheduled to insert itself into Mars orbit in February. However, the Chinese space program will not attempt a touchdown for a few months, with most estimates suggesting late April or early May for the historic event.

China is going big here — an orbiter will continue to circle the red planet, and two spacecraft, a lander and a rover, will be steered to the surface. Mars is typically a very mean-spirited planet: It kills around half of all spacecraft that try to land there, so it’s a huge and daring mission for China’s space agency. It will be able to build on a strong heritage of moon exploration however, with its Chang’e probes achieving incredible feats of space exploration in the last three years.

More: China’s daring Tianwen-1 mission to Mars: Everything you need to know

[May 26] Total Lunar Eclipse of the Flower Moon   

The fantastically named “super blood wolf moon” of Jan. 20 and 21 was a stunner combining a total lunar eclipse (blood) with January timing (wolf) and a particularly large appearance due to being closer to the Earth (super).

Richard Bell/Kalamazoo Astronomical Society

When the Earth’s shadow covers the moon, you get a lunar eclipse. When the entire moon is shadowed, that’s a total lunar eclipse. And when there’s a full moon in May, it’s known as a “Flower Moon.” That’s how you get a total lunar eclipse of the flower moon… and that’s the first big celestial event of 2021. We have a handy guide for viewing eclipses here. We’ll provide a bigger update as it gets closer to May.

[June 10] Ring of Fire eclipse 

Millions of people across eastern Asia and the western US had a great view of the annular eclipse in 2020.

James Martin/CNET

The Johnny Cash eclipse, as it’s affectionately known by nobody except myself, will occur over parts of the Northern Hemisphere on June 10. A ring of fire eclipse occurs when the moon only partially blocks sunlight, leaving a dazzling ring of fire in the sky. The most recent eclipse (an “annular” eclipse, in scientific parlance) occurred in 2020 and it was spectacular. The best places to watch will be across Russia, Canada and Greenland, but there will be plenty of livestreams and places to watch this one, we assume. We’ll bring you all the details as it gets closer.

[June] Boeing Crewed Flight Test

The first crewed Starliner mission could occur as early as June.

Boeing

Provided everything works out exactly as hoped in March, the first crewed test flight of the Starliner could head to the International Space Station in June. Similar to SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission in 2020, this would be the final check for Boeing’s spacecraft before it becomes operational. A big achievement, should it get there.

[July 22] NASA launches DART mission to crash into an asteroid

[embedded content]

NASA’s mission to crash into an asteroid will say “armageddon outta here” on July 22 as it heads toward space rock 68503 Didymos. The rock also has a smaller twin, known as Dimorphos, which orbits it as its personal moon. The “Double Asteroid Redirection Test” will crash into this smaller asteroid (which is about as big as Egypt’s Great Pyramid), and then another mission, led by the European Space Agency for launch in 2024, will study the impact crater and how it changed Dimorphos’ orbit and properties.

If it works, NASA thinks the spacecraft could shift the orbit of Dimorphos by around half a millimeter per second. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but over time, that could dramatically alter its orbital period. 

[Oct. 2] BepiColombo flys past Mercury

BepiColombo will release an orbiter to zip around Mercury in 2025.

CNET

BepiColombo, a joint mission between the ESA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), had a pretty big 2020. It was called into action as it performed a flyby of Venus to check for signs of life in the upper atmosphere. In 2021, it performs its first flyby of its intended destination — the planet Mercury. It will be the first in a series of six flybys and culminate in the release of an orbiting craft that will monitor Mercury from 2025. 

[Oct. 16] NASA’s Lucy launches on asteroid hunt

NASA’s Lucy will explore six asteroids over the coming decade.

NASA

One of the most ambitious missions on NASA’s slate is known as Lucy, which will attempt to visit eight asteroids over the next decade. It will be the first mission to study the Trojans, a group of asteroids that trail and lead Jupiter in orbit around the sun.

The mission is named after the fossilized remains of an ancestral human discovered in Ethiopia in 1974, which rewrote the history books on human evolution. NASA’s Lucy might end up rewriting the history of the solar system. The Trojans likely harbor clues to the origin of our solar system and operate as time capsules, allowing scientists to understand the environment of the solar system’s earliest eons.

[Oct. 31] NASA’s James Webb Telescope launches

NASA engineer Ernie Wright prepares the first six flight-ready primary mirror segments of the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

NASA/MSFC/David Higginbotham

A particularly spooky launch date for NASA’s long-delayed next- generation space telescope. The planned successor to NASA’s workhorse Hubble, James Webb is a major upgrade to our capabilities in studying the early universe. Granted things go well, it should be able to see some of the earliest galaxies that ever formed.

But it has been a struggle for the telescope to get into space. It’s now coming up to its 25th birthday and it hasn’t even got off the ground — with the pandemic setting it back even further. Granted this launch date holds, it will be a big (and spooky) day for NASA. Another fingers crossed mission.

[Dec. 4] Darkness descends on Antarctica

The only total eclipse of 2021 will occur over Antarctica.

Jonathan Ordonez/Getty

If you’re some of the scattered wildlife that spends time in Antarctica (or perhaps some lucky researchers), then you’ll be able to catch the only total solar eclipse of 2021, when the moon blocks light from the sun over the icy continent.

The next total solar eclipse after that won’t be until 2023 and it will only be visible in parts of Southeast Asia and Australia. The US will experience a total solar eclipse in 2024.

Artemis I is coming (perhaps)

“Earth blue, rocket red and lunar silver” is how NASA describes the colors used in the logo for the Artemis program. The logo pulls from the history of the Apollo program.

NASA

NASA’s plan to return humans to the moon in 2024 involves a series of missions under the Artemis banner. The very first Artemis mission, Artemis I, is scheduled to launch in 2021. The missions will use a huge, new rocket known as the Space Launch System, or SLS, which will carry an uncrewed spacecraft known as Orion to lunar orbit.

NASA has discussed this one for November, but there’s every chance it will slip later than that and potentially to 2022. If the mission succeeds, we might see Artemis II — with a human crew — launch in 2023.  

Will Chandrayaan-3 launch in 2021?

India launched Chandrayaan-2 to the moon in 2019, but a software glitch caused a “hard landing.”

ISRO

In 2019, the Indian space agency, ISRO, attempted to make history by becoming the fourth nation to soft-land on the surface of the moon. Unfortunately, things went awry. A software glitch caused the spacecraft, Chandrayaan-2, to careen into the moon’s surface. The mission was designed to land at the lunar south pole, which would have been a historic first. Almost as soon as Chandrayaan-2’s unfortunate ending came to light, India announced it would try again,with Chandrayaan-3.

The mission was slated to launch in 2020, but pandemic. Will it launch in 2021? That’s what ISRO is shooting for.

Steve Brown grabbed this magnificent time-lapse of star trails during the Perseid meteor shower.

Steve Brown

Throughout the year, CNET will have bespoke coverage of when and how to catch each meteor shower listed below. If you bookmark this page, you can just return here at your leisure — or, remember to check CNET for the latest on how to spot meteors!

  • Quadrantids Dec. 27, 2020 – Jan. 10, 2021.
    Peak night: Jan. 2 

Want to watch the Quadrantids meteor shower? Read about that here.

  • Lyrids April 16 – April 30.
    Peak night: April 21
  • Eta Aquariids April 19 – May 28.
    Peak night: May 5
  • Perseids July 17 – Aug. 26.
    Peak night:  Aug. 13
  • Draconids Oct. 6 – Oct. 10.
    Peak night: Oct. 7
  • Orionids Oct. 2 – Nov. 7.
    Peak night: Oct. 20
  • Leonids Nov. 6 – Nov. 30.
    Peak night: Nov. 16
  • Geminids Dec. 4 – Dec. 17.
    Peak night: Dec. 13
  • Ursids Dec. 17 – Dec. 26.
    Peak night: Dec. 21

Read more: How to see the year’s best meteor showers: Everything you need to know

This page is constantly updated. 

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

SpaceX launches 60 new Starlink satellites, while Starship moves closer to being able to launch up to 400 at a time – Yahoo Movies Canada

Published

 on


SpaceX has launched another batch of its Starlink satellites – the usual complement of 60 of the low Earth orbit spacecraft, which will join the more than 1,000 already making up the existing constellation. This is the fifth launch of Starlink satellites for SpaceX this year, and the 20th overall.

Earlier this year, SpaceX opened up Starlink access to anyone in a current or planned service area via a pre-order reservation system with a refundable up-front deposit. The company aims to continue launches like this one apace throughout 2021 in order to get the constellation to the point where it can serve customers over a much larger portion of the globe. SpaceX COO and President Gwynne Shotwell has previously said that the company expects it should have coverage over much of the globe at a constellation size of around 1,200 satellites, but the company has plans to launch more than 30,000 to fully build out its network capacity and speed.

While SpaceX is making good progress on Starlink with its Falcon 9 launcher, it’s also looking ahead to Starship as a key driver of the constellation’s growth. Starship, SpaceX’s next-generation launch vehicle currently under development in South Texas, will be able to deliver 400 Starlink satellites at a time to orbit, and it’s also being designed with full reusability and fast turnaround in mind.

The ability to launch more than six times as many satellites per mission would help SpaceX a lot in terms of the speed with which they can deploy the Starlink network, as well as the overall cost of the endeavor – assuming their cost projections about Starlink’s general affordability are even close to accurate once it becomes a high-volume production rocket. That’s definitely still at least a few years off, but SpaceX did mark a milestone on Wednesday that bodes well for its chances of making that happen.

The company’s latest Starship prototype performed its most successful test launch to date on Wednesday, taking off from SpaceX’s Boca Chica, Texas development site and flying to around 32,000 feet before executing a ‘flop’ maneuver and then reorienting itself for a soft vertical landing. The test rocket also blew up after sitting on the pad for just under 10 minutes, but despite that spectacular ending, the test proved out a lot of the basic engineering work that SpaceX needs to make Starship a reality.

Starlink is a huge, multi-year effort, so even if Starship is still a few years away from high-volume production and flight, it should still have a significant impact on the project overall. And Starlink, once operational and fully deployed, will require regular maintenance – individual satellites in the network are only really designed to be operational for ups to five years max, with regular replacements required to keep things running smoothly.

Early Stage is the premier “how-to” event for startup entrepreneurs and investors. You’ll hear firsthand how some of the most successful founders and VCs build their businesses, raise money and manage their portfolios. We’ll cover every aspect of company building: Fundraising, recruiting, sales, legal, PR, marketing and brand building. Each session also has audience participation built-in — there’s ample time included in each for audience questions and discussion.

( function() { var func = function() var iframe = document.getElementById(‘wpcom-iframe-dde292b93a5f3017145419dd51bb9fce’) if ( iframe ) iframe.onload = function() iframe.contentWindow.postMessage( ‘msg_type’: ‘poll_size’, ‘frame_id’: ‘wpcom-iframe-dde292b93a5f3017145419dd51bb9fce’ , “https://tcprotectedembed.com” ); // Autosize iframe var funcSizeResponse = function( e ) if ( ‘function’ === typeof window.addEventListener ) window.addEventListener( ‘message’, funcSizeResponse, false ); else if ( ‘function’ === typeof window.attachEvent ) window.attachEvent( ‘onmessage’, funcSizeResponse ); if (document.readyState === ‘complete’) func.apply(); /* compat for infinite scroll */ else if ( document.addEventListener ) document.addEventListener( ‘DOMContentLoaded’, func, false ); else if ( document.attachEvent ) document.attachEvent( ‘onreadystatechange’, func ); } )();

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

SpaceX sticks 75th Falcon rocket landing after launching 60 more Starlink satellites – Spaceflight Now – Spaceflight Now

Published

 on


A Falcon 9 rocket disappears in a blanket of clouds shortly after launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center early Thursday. Credit: SpaceX

Launching through a blanket of low-hanging clouds and light mist, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket thundered into the sky over Florida’s Space Coast early Thursday and delivered 60 more Starlink internet satellites to orbit. The rocket’s first stage touched down on SpaceX’s floating landing platform in the Atlantic Ocean to complete its eighth trip to space and back.

The 229-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 rocket flashed to life and lifted off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 3:24:54 a.m. EST (0824:54 GMT). Fifteen seconds later, the liquid-fueled launcher disappeared into a cloud deck over the seaside spaceport, leaving behind an orange flow that slowly faded with the roar of the Falcon 9’s powerful main engines.

Arcing toward the northeast, the Falcon 9 exceeded the speed of sound and dropped its first stage booster about two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff. A single Merlin engine on the upper stage ignited to continue the flight into space, while the first stage descended to a propulsive landing on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” positioned about 400 miles (630 kilometers) downrange from Cape Canaveral.

The successful landing marked the 75th intact recovery of a Falcon rocket booster since December 2015. The booster on Thursday mission — designated B1049 — made its eighth launch and landing after debuting in September 2018, tying another first stage for the most number of flights in SpaceX’s fleet.

A Falcon 9 booster on SpaceX’s previous launch Feb. 15 failed to land on the drone ship after one of its nine main engines shut down prematurely during ascent.

After reaching a preliminary parking orbit, the upper stage coasted halfway around the world before firing its engine again for a one-second orbit adjustment burn over the Indian Ocean. The 60 Starlink satellites deployed from the Falcon 9’s upper stage at 4:29 a.m. EST (0929 GMT) while flying 172 miles (278 kilometers) above Earth just south of New Zealand.

The on-target launch came after a series of delays kept the mission grounded since late January. The delays were caused by weather and unspecified technical issues, and two other Falcon 9 missions with Starlink satellites took off from nearby pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station while the flight from pad 39A stayed earthbound.

The change in the order of missions meant the batch launched Thursday was on the 20th Falcon 9 flight dedicated to carrying Starlink satellites, despite its designation on the military-run Eastern Range as Starlink V1.0-L17. Launches No. 18 and 19 ended up flying before No. 17.

The 60 Starlink satellites, each weighing about a quarter-ton, will unfurl their solar panels and switch on ion krypton thrusters to begin raising their altitude to 341 miles (550 kilometers) in the coming weeks. At that altitude, the satellites will join more than 1,000 active Starlink satellites flying in orbits inclined 53 degrees to the equator, taking them above nearly all of the world’s populated regions.

SpaceX has launched 1,205 Starlink satellites to date with the 60 fresh relay stations delivered to orbit Thursday. But 63 of the Starlinks have been intentionally deorbited or re-entered the atmosphere after failing, and another 20 are not maneuvering or appear to be in the process of deorbiting, according to a tally of Starlink satellites from Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer and respected tracker of spaceflight activity.

SpaceX is well on the way to finish deployment of its initial tranche of 1,584 Starlink stations — including spares — later this year. SpaceX won’t stop there, with plans to launch additional orbital “shells” of Starlink satellites into polar orbit to enable global coverage, with a first-generation fleet totaling some 4,400 spacecraft.

The Federal Communications Commission has authorized SpaceX to eventually operate up to 12,000 Starlink satellites.

The company is already providing an interim level of service over parts of the Earth, such as Canada, northern parts of the United States, and the United Kingdom. Beta testing of the Starlink services is already underway with users in those regions. SpaceX is also accepting pre-orders from Starlink consumers, who can pay $99 to reserve their place in line to get Starlink service when it becomes available in their area. For people in the southern United States and other lower-latitude regions, that should come by late 2021, SpaceX says.

Once confirmed, customers will pay $499 for a Starlink antenna and modem, plus $50 in shipping and handling, SpaceX says. A subscription will run $99 per month.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 booster stands on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” after launch Thursday. Credit: SpaceX

“Starlink continues to improve as SpaceX deploys additional infrastructure and capability, averaging two Starlink launches per month, to add significant on-orbit capacity alongside activation of additional gateways to improve performance and expand service coverage areas across the country,” SpaceX wrote in the filing.

Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, tweeted Feb. 9 that SpaceX’s Starlink subsidiary will go public once it has a predictable cash flow.

“Once we can predict cash flow reasonably well, Starlink will IPO,” Musk tweeted.

Until then, SpaceX will be spending cash at a high rate to maintain the Starlink network’s high-tempo deployment, from satellite launches at an average pace of every couple of weeks to the manufacturing of user ground terminals. SpaceX has said the entire project could cost more than $10 billion, but Musk has said the revenue opportunities are even higher, providing resources for SpaceX to advance its audacious plans to send people to Mars.

The centerpiece of SpaceX’s Mars plans is a next-generation fully reusable rocket called the Starship, which the company says will eventually replace the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.

The Falcon 9 launch early Thursday occurred less than a half-day after at atmospheric test flight of a Starship prototype from SpaceX’s development facility in South Texas. The Starship test vehicle made a controlled landing, a first for a Starship descending from high altitude, and a major step forward for the rocket program.

But the prototype exploded a few minutes later, scattering debris across the landing site on Texas Gulf Coast. Nevertheless, SpaceX declared the test a success.

SpaceX’s jam-packed launch schedule continues with the next Falcon 9 mission set to blast off Sunday night from pad 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station with 60 more Starlink satellites. That flight is scheduled for 10:41 p.m. EST Sunday (0341 GMT Monday), followed by more Falcon 9 launches with Starlink satellites in the coming weeks.

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

NASA's Perseverance Mars rover deploys wind sensor as health checks continue – Firstpost

Published

 on


A fortnight since its widely-documented touch down on Mars, NASA’s Perseverance rover continues to find its bearings and stretch its numerous ‘arms’ on the Red Planet. Since the 18 February landing, the rover team has been performing a methodical battery of tests on its seven science instruments, and begun deploying the ones that work. In the latest deployment, Perseverance deployed its wind sensor, as seen in photographs captured by the navigation cameras on board.

The Perseverance rover’s navigation cameras show the wind sensor deployed. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The wind sensor is one of the instruments part of a weather monitoring experiment on the rover called the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA). The sensor collects data on air temperature, humidity, radiation, dust and wind around the rover, which is currently parked in its landing site – the Jezero Crater, a 45-km-wide depression in the ground that is thought to have once been home to an ancient lake and river delta.

The High Resolution Imaging Experiment (HiRISE) on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, spotted Perseverance at its landing site, six days after touchdown and in the process of system checks.

Perseverance rover and the Jezero Crater around it, as seen by HiRISE on 24 February. Image Credit: HiRISE: Beautiful Mars/Twitter

Perseverance rover and the Jezero Crater around it, as seen by HiRISE on 24 February. Image Credit: HiRISE: Beautiful Mars/Twitter

From the orbiter’s vantage point over 250 kilometres away in orbit, the ground below Percy’s wheels appears to be loose, dark material, with brighter material underneath. The bright zones are visible on either side of the rover, likely “scoured clear by the descent stage rockets” during descent, as per a statement on the HiRISE website.

In late February, ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter shared another wide view of the rover and components after its descent, littering the surface of the Red Planet. The Perseverance rover is visible in images as a relatively faint spot next to a ridge connecting to one of the smaller craters in the vicinity.

Ingenuity: Perseverance rover’s first ‘big job’

Perseverance’s first big job will be to find an airfield where its little helicopter buddy can take off, according to a Space.com report. Mission controllers received the first status report from the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter attached to the belly of the rover, hours after its landing. Ingenuity will remain attached to the rover for the next several weeks, NASA had said in a statement at the time. Provided Ingenuity survives the frigid Martian nights to come, where temperatures dip to lows of minus 90 degrees Celsius, the mission team will proceed with the first flight of an aircraft on another world.

If Ingenuity manages to land successfully and remain operable, NASA may send four successors, “each building on the success of the last”, the agency said. These descendants of the Ingenuity rotorcraft can bring an aerial dimension to exploration of Mars.

Also read: ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter, NASA’s HiRISE catch stunning glimpses of Perseverance rover on Mars

NASA shares video, audio of Perseverance Mars landing

Ingenuity helicopter reports in

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending