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Mars 2020's New Name is… "Perseverance" – Universe Today

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Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity For decades, NASA’s robotic rovers have explored the surface of Mars looking for clues about its past and subsequent evolution. With every success and discovery, their names became part of the public discourse, infiltrating our vocabulary the same way iconic figures like Armstrong, Einstein, and Hubble did. But what of the next rover that will be sent to explore Mars this summer?

NASA has serious plans for the Mars 2020 rover, the next installment in the Mars Exploration Program after its sister-rover Curiosity. But before this mission can launch and add its impressive capabilities to the hunt for life on Mars (past and present), it needed a proper name. Thanks to Alexander Mather (a grade 7 student from Burke, Virginia), it now has one. From this day forward, the Mars 2020 rover will be known as the Perseverance rover!

Mather’s submitted the name as part of the agency’s “Name the Rover” essay contest, which received 28,000 entries from K-12 students from all across the US. Perseverance is the latest Mars rover to be named through an essay contest involving school children, following in the footsteps of Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity.

The nameplate secured to the arm of NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, taken at the Kennedy Space Center soon after being attached on March 4, 2020. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The name was announced yesterday (March 5th) during a celebration at Lake Braddock Secondary School, where Mather studies. Thomas Zurbuchen, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, was on hand to congratulate Mather’s on his winning entry. As Zurbuchen said during the celebration:

“Alex’s entry captured the spirit of exploration. Like every exploration mission before, our rover is going to face challenges, and it’s going to make amazing discoveries. It’s already surmounted many obstacles to get us to the point where we are today – processing for launch. Alex and his classmates are the Artemis Generation, and they’re going to be taking the next steps into space that lead to Mars. That inspiring work will always require perseverance. We can’t wait to see that nameplate on Mars.”

Mather became interested in space exploration in the summer of 2018 after he and his family visited Space Camp. This annual event is held at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center‘s official visitor center, which is part of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. After seeing the Saturn V rocket that brought the Apollo astronauts to the Moon, Mather became a regular follower of spaceflight stories.

“This was a chance to help the agency that put humans on the Moon and will soon do it again,” Mathers said, explaining his inspiration for the name in a recent NASA press release. “This Mars rover will help pave the way for human presence there, and I wanted to try and help in any way I could. Refusal of the challenge was not an option.”

Members of JPL’s assembly, test and launch operations team for NASA’s Perseverance mission show appreciation for their newly named rover. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

So when the call came for essays to propose a name for the Mars 2020 rover, Mather was all over it! The contest began on August 28th, 2019, with 28,000 essay submissions being reviewed by nearly 4,700 volunteer judges – a combination of educators, professionals and space enthusiasts – eventually narrowed the contest down to 155 semifinalists, and then nine finalists.

These finalists were then voted on by the public, who had five days to chose the essay and name they liked best. A total of over 770,000 votes were cast that were then submitted to NASA for consideration. The finalists also had the chance to talk to a panel of NASA experts, which Planetary Science Division director Lori Glaze; NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins; and JPL engineer and rover driver Nick Wiltsie.

Another panel expert was Clara Ma, a graduate student of Cambridge University who named the Curiosity rover in 2009 (when she was in the sixth grade). Ma took to Twitter to congratulate Mather, writing: “[T]his is just the beginning of what I hope will be the most exciting journey of your life so far. It was an honor to be a judge for this year’s contest. Thanks so much to everyone who took the time to enter!”

As part of the grand prize, Mather and his family will also have the honor of traveling to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to witness the mission launch. That launch is scheduled to take place between July 17th to August 5th, 2020, and will arrive on Mars by Feb. 18th, 2021 – landing in the Jezero crater a little after 3:40 p.m. EST (12:40 p.m. PST).

While there could be only one winner, Director Lori Glaze was sure to acknowledge the valuable contributions of all the participants. She also indicated how the semifinalists would still get to see their submissions included as part of the mission:

“They came so far, and their expressive submissions helped make this naming contest the biggest and best in NASA history. So, we decided to send them a little farther – 314 million miles farther. All 155 semifinalists’ proposed rover names and essays have been stenciled onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair and will be flown to Mars aboard the rover.”

When it arrives on Mars, Perseverance will use a suite of advanced instruments (similar to Curiosity‘s) to analyze and characterize the planet’s climate and geology, as well as search for evidence of life. In addition, Perseverance will collect samples of Martian soil and place them in a cache for eventual retrieval – possibly by a crewed mission in the next decade.

In the meantime, Perseverance is undergoing its final assembly and checkout process at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In addition to Curiosity, Perseverance will be joined by the ESA’s Rosalind Franklin rover and China’s Huoxing-1 (HX-1), all of which will be helping to advance our understanding of Mars’ past and present environment.

Be sure to check out this video of the Perseverance mission, courtesy of NASA 360°:

[embedded content]

Further Reading: NASA

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Dusty demise for NASA Mars lander in July; power dwindling – CGTN

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A NASA spacecraft on Mars is headed for a dusty demise. 

The InSight lander is losing power because of all the dust on its solar panels. NASA said Tuesday it will keep using the spacecraft’s seismometer to register marsquakes until the power peters out, likely in July. Then flight controllers will monitor InSight until the end of this year, before calling everything off. 

“There really hasn’t been too much doom and gloom on the team. We’re really still focused on operating the spacecraft,” said Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Bruce Banerdt, the principal scientist. 

Since landing on Mars in 2018, InSight has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes; the biggest one, a magnitude 5, occurred two weeks ago. 

It will be NASA’s second Mars lander lost to dust: A global dust storm took out Opportunity in 2018. In InSight’s case, it’s been a gradual gathering of dust, especially over the past year.

NASA’s two other functioning spacecraft on the Martian surface – rovers Curiosity and Perseverance – are still going strong thanks to nuclear power. The space agency may rethink solar power in the future for Mars, said planetary science director Lori Glaze, or at least experiment with new panel-clearing tech or aim for the less-stormy seasons.

InSight currently is generating one-tenth of the power from the sun that it did upon arrival. Deputy project manager Kathya Zamora Garcia said the lander initially had enough power to run an electric oven for one hour and 40 minutes; now it’s down to 10 minutes max. 

The InSight team had anticipated this much dust buildup, but hoped a gust of wind or dust devil might clean off the solar panels. That has yet to happen, despite several thousand whirlwinds coming close. 

“None of them have quite hit us dead-on yet enough to blow the dust off the panels,” Banerdt told reporters. 

Another science instrument, dubbed the mole, was supposed to burrow 16 feet (5 meters) underground to measure the internal temperature of Mars. But the German digger never got deeper than a couple of feet (a half-meter) because of the unexpected composition of the red dirt, and it finally was declared dead at the beginning of last year.

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Blood moon, big city: Skywatcher captures total lunar eclipse over New York (photos) – Space.com

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The eclipsed moon burns red high above the bright lights of New York City in gorgeous photos captured by amateur astronomer Alexander Krivenyshev.

Krivenyshev, the president of WorldTimeZone.com, snapped images of the total lunar eclipse on Sunday night (May 15) from Guttenberg, New Jersey, which is across the Hudson River from the Big Apple. 

He persevered through cloudy conditions, Krivenyshev told Space.com via email, to get shots of the blood-red moon shining like a beacon in a light-polluted sky.

Related: Amazing photos of the Super Flower Blood Moon of 2022

A closeup of the eclipsed moon on May 15, 2022, as photographed by Alexander Krivenyshev. (Image credit: Alexander Krivenyshev, WorldTimeZone.com)

The eclipse began at 9:32 p.m EDT on Sunday (0132 GMT on May 16) when the moon nosed into the light part of Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra, and ended five hours later. The total eclipse phase, in which the moon was completely darkened by Earth’s heavier umbral shadow, lasted 85 minutes, the longest of any lunar eclipse in 33 years.

Earth’s nearest neighbor temporarily turns a coppery red during total lunar eclipses. This “blood moon” effect is caused by Earth’s atmosphere, which bends some red light onto the lunar surface while scattering away shorter-wavelength light. (No sunlight is hitting the moon directly at this point, of course; Earth is blocking the sun from the moon’s perspective.)

Another series of shots of the total lunar eclipse over New York City, photographed by Alexander Krivenyshev on May 15, 2022.  (Image credit: Alexander Krivenyshev, WorldTimeZone.com)

Related stories:

Last weekend’s sky show was best observed from the Americas and parts of Western Europe and West Africa. It was the first total lunar eclipse of the year, but it won’t be the last; another one will occur on Nov. 8. The Nov. 8 lunar eclipse will be best observed from Australia, eastern Asia and the western United States. 

If you’re hoping to photograph the moon, or want to prepare for the next total lunar eclipse, check out our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. Our guides on how to photograph a lunar eclipse, and how to photograph the moon with a camera, also have some helpful tips to plan out your lunar photo session.

Editor’s Note: If you snap an amazing lunar eclipse photo (or your own eclipse webcast) and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.  

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NASA's Mars InSight mission coming to an end as dust covers solar panels – CBC News

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A NASA spacecraft on Mars is headed for a dusty demise.

The Insight lander is losing power because of all the dust on its solar panels. NASA said Tuesday it will keep using the spacecraft’s seismometer to register marsquakes until the power peters out, likely in July. Then flight controllers will monitor InSight until the end of this year, before calling everything off.

“There really hasn’t been too much doom and gloom on the team. We’re really still focused on operating the spacecraft,” said Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Bruce Banerdt, the principal scientist.

Since landing on Mars in 2018, InSight has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes; the biggest one, a magnitude 5, occurred two weeks ago.

It will be NASA’s second Mars lander lost to dust: A global dust storm took out Opportunity in 2018. In InSight’s case, it’s been a gradual gathering of dust, especially over the past year.

WATCH | NASA scientists discuss InSight’s goals on Mars: [embedded content]

Rethinking solar power

NASA’s two other functioning spacecraft on the Martian surface — rovers Curiosity and Perseverance — are still going strong thanks to nuclear power.

The space agency may rethink solar power in the future for Mars, said planetary science director Lori Glaze, or at least experiment with new panel-clearing tech or aim for the less-stormy seasons.

InSight currently is generating one-tenth of the power from the sun that it did upon arrival.

Deputy project manager Kathya Zamora Garcia said the lander initially had enough power to run an electric oven for one hour and 40 minutes; now it’s down to 10 minutes max.

The InSight team anticipated this much dust buildup, but hoped a gust of wind or a dust devil might clean off the solar panels. That has yet to happen, despite several thousand whirlwinds coming close.

“None of them have quite hit us dead-on yet enough to blow the dust off the panels,” Banerdt told reporters.

Another science instrument, dubbed the mole, was supposed to burrow five metres underground to measure the internal temperature of Mars. But the German digger never got deeper than a half-metre because of the unexpected composition of the red dirt, and it finally was declared dead at the beginning of last year.

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