A tiny swarm of asteroids will come waltzing through our neck of the cosmic woods this weekend, as planet Earth is in for a series of close encounters on Saturday. Three space rocks are due to cruise by Earth tomorrow, in a multi-asteroid flyby that will bring one of the objects as close as 1.3 million miles from our planet’s surface. The three objects will swing by at different times throughout the day, each of them making an individual close approach rather than buzzing our planet as a group. The rocks couldn’t be more different from one another, as they vary in speed, size, and moment of discovery. However, these objects do share a common trait, as all of them are classified as Apollo-type asteroids.
The first one to make the trip through our corner of the solar system on December 21 is a 128-foot asteroid known as 2019 YM. The rock was discovered merely a day ago and is the smallest and fastest of the bunch. According to a report released yesterday by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the tiny asteroid orbits the sun once every 1,157 days, or 3.1 years, and is currently embarked on its second-ever flyby of Earth. The rock previously visited our planet in early December 2015, when it came within 17.1 million miles of the terrestrial surface. The object will creep in a lot closer to Earth tomorrow, marking the closest approach of the day.
The newfound space rock is expected to swing by in the early hours of the morning, reaching its closest point to Earth at 4:12 a.m. EST. The asteroid will safely hurtle past us at speeds of a little over 38,300 mph, flying as close as 5.5 times the distance between our planet and the moon.
After tomorrow’s close brush with Earth, it will be quite sometime before the rock returns to our corner of space. The asteroid will pass by Jupiter in 2021 as it treks the outer solar system and won’t double back until nearly four decades after, in 2058. Its next flyby of Earth will bring the rock only 7.1 million miles from our planet.
A little over 10 hours after asteroid 2019 YM darts past us on Saturday, a slightly larger Apollo asteroid will cruise by Earth in what will be the slowest and farthest approach of the day. Our second celestial visitor is called 2013 XY20 and is estimated to be about 154 feet wide. The space rock will gracefully float by at a speed of just 4,272 mph, or 5.5 times the speed of sound, reaching Earth’s vicinity at 2:35 p.m. EST. As it does so, the object will come within 4.3 million miles of our planet, or 18.2 times the distance to the moon.
As its name suggests, this second celestial interloper has been on NASA’s radar for quite some time. Asteroid 2013 XY20 was discovered six years ago, about three weeks before it swung by Earth in mid-December 2013. This Apollo asteroid circles the sun once every 439 days, or 1.2 years, frequently passing by our planet as it journeys around the giant star. Sometimes, the rock swings by on consecutive years; other times, it leaves a six-year gap between its visits.
NASA predicts that the asteroid will double back in six years’ time, making its next flyby of Earth in 2025. After that, the rock will return in 2026.
The third and final close encounter of the day will get planet Earth re-acquainted with another frequent traveler through our cosmic neighborhood — a 213-foot Apollo asteroid dubbed 2017 XQ60. The rock was first spotted two years ago, exactly one week before it buzzed Earth on December 21, 2017. The asteroid is gearing up for yet another December 21 close approach and will pop by in the late hours of the evening, flying past us at 9:10 p.m. EST. At the time, the rock will be some 2.6 million miles from Earth, or 11 times the lunar distance, cruising through space at a velocity of 19,800 mph.
JPL data shows that the asteroid, which is the heftiest of the group, takes around a year to complete a full orbit around the sun. The rock has been buzzing Earth on a yearly basis since 2001 and will continue its annual flybys up until the year 2037.
The multi-asteroid flyby comes hot on the heels of another close approach that occurred this morning, when planet Earth was visited by a massive 1,771-foot Apollo asteroid, as previously covered by The Inquisitr.
Check Out This Amazing HD Panorama Of Mars From NASA’s Perseverance Rover – Forbes
The verdict is in – and NASA’s Perseverance rover is a hit.
Having touched down on Mars in the Jezero Crater last week on Thursday, February 18, this plucky robotic explorer has captured the hearts and minds of the world.
Following its dramatic descent to the surface, complete with stunning first-of-its-kind footage, we also learned about a mysterious message in its parachute.
Now that the rover is on the surface, however, it is already busy getting to work, using its camera to take images of its surroundings.
And yesterday, Wednesday, February 24, NASA released the first 360-degree panorama from the rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument, situated at the top of the rover’s neck, called its mast.
You can view the image right here.
It was made using 142 images from the camera, revealed details on the crater rim and the nearby ancient river delta that Perseverance will study for signs of past life on Mars.
The image is zoomable, allowing you to take a detailed look at Perseverance’s immediate location on Mars, where it will spend another week or so.
The camera is able to see objects as small as 0.1 to 0.2 inches (3 to 5 millimeters) near the rover, and 6.5 to 10 feet (2 to 3 meters) in the distance.
This was the rover’s second panorama, after a previous one captured by its Navigation Cameras – or Navcams, also located on the Mast, said NASA.
But it was the first high-definition panorama from the rover, with Mastcam-Z having a higher resolution than the Navcams.
This allowed the rover to spot some intriguing features, such as a “wind-carved rock” located nearby that looked particularly interesting.
“We’re nestled right in a sweet spot, where you can see different features similar in many ways to features found by Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity at their landing sites,” Jim Bell from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, the lead on the Mastcam-Z instrument, said in a statement.
The rover will continue running through some checks in the forthcoming days, perhaps taking its first drive relatively soon.
Then, in March, it will drive to a nearby location to deploy a helicopter on the surface, called Ingenuity, to perform the first attempt at flight on another world.
After that, the main science mission can begin, with the rover beginning its studies of the surface to look for evidence of fossilised Martian microbial life.
It’s a two-Earth-year mission that will also see the rover monitor the Martian weather, attempt to turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, and look for water-ice under the surface.
So, for the time being, you can maybe forgive it for taking a moment to relax at its landing site and bask in its Martian surroundings.
Thankfully, we get to do the same thanks to its cameras. If you want to pore through more images from the rover, you can do so right here.
NASA confirms Perseverance rover has landed on Mars – Arab News
WASHINGTON DC: NASA said Thursday that the Perseverance rover has touched down on the surface of Mars after successfully overcoming a risky landing phase known as the “seven minutes of terror.”
“Touchdown confirmed,” said operations lead Swati Mohan at around 3:55 p.m. Eastern Time (2055 GMT) as mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory headquarters erupted in cheers.
The autonomously-guided procedure was completed more than 11 minutes earlier, which is how long it takes for radio signals to return to Earth.
“WOW!!” tweeted NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurburchen as he posted the Perseverance’s first black and white image from the Jezero Crater in Mars’ northern hemisphere.
The rover is only the fifth ever to set its wheels down on Mars. The feat was first accomplished in 1997 and all so far have been American.
About the size of an SUV, it weighs a ton, is equipped with a seven foot (two meter) long robotic arm, has 19 cameras, two microphones, and a suite of cutting-edge instruments to assist in its scientific goals.
Perseverance now embarks on a multi-year mission to search for the biosignatures of microbes that might have existed there billions of years ago, when conditions were warmer and wetter than they are today.
Starting from summer, it will attempt to collect 30 rock and soil samples in sealed tubes, to be eventually sent back to Earth sometime in the 2030s for lab analysis.
“The question of whether there’s life beyond Earth is one of the most fundamental and essential questions we can ask,” said NASA geologist Katie Stack Morgan.
“Our ability to ask this question and develop the scientific investigations and technology to answer it is one of the things that make us as a species so unique.”
NASA also wants to run several eye-catching experiments — including attempting the first powered flight on another planet, with a helicopter drone called Ingenuity that will have to achieve lift in an atmosphere that’s one percent the density of Earth’s.
Mars Messages: Why NASA’s ‘Secret Code’ In The Perseverance Rover’s Supersonic Parachute Is Just The Start – Forbes
NASA’s Perseverance rover landed safely on Mars on on February 18, 2021—and as it did so it displayed a special message.
In one of the most visually impactful parts of the incredible video of its dramatic landing on Mars was the unfurling of the rover’s red and orange parachute, which NASA has just revealed displays binary code that reads:
“Dare Mighty Things.”
What does that mean, where does it come from (clue: it was said by a politician in 1899)and why did NASA go to the trouble of sending a message to Mars?
The parachute’s code actually says more than just that three-word phrase—and on the rover is also a motto, 7 iconic images, 155 essays and 10.9 million names.
This is not the first time NASA has sent “secret” messages to Mars.
Here’s everything you need to know:
Why did Perseverance need a supersonic parachute?
NASA’s Perseverance rover got into the Martian atmosphere in a protective back shell that was equipped with a 70.5 feet/21.5 meters diameter parachute.
As it unfurled 7 miles/11 kilometers above Jezero Crater, to slowdown the spacecraft from 940 mph/1,512 kph, a parachute-up-look camera snapped some images.
What was written on Perseverance’s parachute?
Two messages were encoded in binary in an orange-and-white pattern on the parachute’s gores, one on the outer ring and one in a spiral on the inner ring:
Inner ring: “Dare Mighty Things,” with each word on its own ring of gores.
Outer ring: The GPS coordinates (34°11’58” N 118°10’31” W) for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where the rover was built and the project is managed.
Here’s the decoded version from NASA:
And here’s what the parachute was expected to look like. This image also gives you a better sense of scale of Perseverance’s supersonic parachute:
What ‘Dare Mighty Things’ means and why NASA encoded it on the parachute
“Dare Mighty Things” is the motto of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in La Cañada Flintridge, California, the center for the robotic exploration of the Solar System.
The phrase comes from a famous speech by Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, New York Governor, in Chicago on April 10, 1899 in which he argued that strenuous effort and overcoming hardship were what Americans must embrace:
“Thrice happy is the nation that has a glorious history. Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”
The binary code pattern on the supersonic parachute was designed by Ian Clark, Mars 2020 Perseverance Systems Engineer at JPL.
More messages on Perseverance
It doesn’t stop there. To take accurate color on Mars, the rover’s wide-angle Mastcam-Z cameras need to calibrate, so on the rover’s deck is a pair of small color-reference targets. Called “cal targets” (pictured above) they help Perseverance’s camera system get the colors of Mars exactly right in photographs.
However, in between the color and grayscale patches are seven small icons:
- Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars orbiting the Sun.
- A DNA strand.
- Cyanobacteria (early microorganisms on Earth).
- A fern (symbolizing green plants).
- A dinosaur.
- Two waving humans (which recalls the plaques on NASA’s Pioneer and encoded on NASA’s Voyager Golden Records).
- A space rocket.
The cal target also has a motto, “Two Worlds, One Beginning.” NASA’s previous rover, Curiosity, has one that reads “To Mars To Explore” while its older Spirit and Opportunity rovers both had “Two Worlds, One Sun.”
So this is not the first time that NASA has baked-in coded messages to its Martian hardware.
Yet NASA’s most recent rover, Curiosity, has been leaving messages literally on the Martian surface for almost a decade …
The ‘secret message’ on NASA’s Curiosity rover
When NASA’s Curiosity rover landed in Gale Crater on August 6, 2012, it too took a message to Mars. In its track marks, visible above as straight bands across the zigzag track marks, is a repeating pattern that reads “JPL.”
The Morse code is: .—- (J), .—. (P), and .-.. (L), which is imprinted on all six wheels.
It’s not just there for fun. The Curiosity rover uses images of the repeating pattern to determine exactly how far it has traveled and allows it to check that there’s been no wheel slippage.
Perseverance is also carrying 10.9 million names
Both of NASA’s most recent rovers also carry millions of names on microchips—from “Send Your Name To Mars” PR campaigns—with Curiosity storing 1.2 million names and Perseverance carrying 10.9 million.
Also on its tiny microchip are 155 essays from the finalists in NASA’s “Name the Rover” essay contest.
The latest from the Perseverance rover
Since the landing the rover has sent back hundreds of images from a zoomable pair of cameras called Mastcam-Z, 142 of which were used to stick together a 360º panorama. It’s so highly detailed that it’s possible to get close-ups of rock features seen in the distance.
Expect many more photos from Perseverance to be posted by NASA in the coming weeks, months and years as the rover searches the ancient lake-bed for signs of ancient life. It will also collect samples of rock and soil for possible return to Earth in the 2030s.
Perseverance is also carrying a small Mars Helicopter, also known as Ingenuity, which expected to take its first powered flight shortly.
Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.
Check Out This Amazing HD Panorama Of Mars From NASA’s Perseverance Rover – Forbes
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