The Mars 2020 rover, which sets off for the Red Planet next year, will not only search for traces of ancient life, but pave the way for future human missions, NASA scientists said Friday as they unveiled the vehicle.
The rover has been constructed in a large, sterile room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, near Los Angeles, where its driving equipment was given its first successful test last week.
Shown to invited journalists on Friday, it is scheduled to leave Earth in July 2020 from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, becoming the fifth US rover to land on Mars seven months later in February.
“It’s designed to seek the signs of life, so we’re carrying a number of different instruments that will help us understand the geological and chemical context on the surface of Mars,” deputy mission leader Matt Wallace told AFP.
Among the devices on board the rover are 23 cameras, two “ears” that will allow it to listen to Martian winds, and lasers used for chemical analysis.
Approximately the size of a car, the rover is equipped with six wheels like its predecessor Curiosity, allowing it to traverse rocky terrain.
Speed is not a priority for the vehicle, which only has to cover around 200 yards (180 metres) per Martian day – approximately the same as a day on Earth.
Fuelled by a miniature nuclear reactor, Mars 2020 has seven-foot-long (two metre) articulated arms and a drill to crack open rock samples in locations scientists identify as potentially suitable for life.
“What we’re looking for is ancient microbial life – we’re talking about billions of years ago on Mars, when the planet was much more Earth-like,” said Wallace.
Back then, the Red Planet had warm surface water, a thicker atmosphere and a magnetic force around it, he explained.
“And so it was much more conducive to the types of simple single cell life that evolved here on Earth at that time,” Wallace said.
Once collected, the samples will be hermetically sealed in tubes by the rover.
The tubes will then be discarded on the planet’s surface, where they will lie until a future mission can transport them back to Earth.
“We are hoping to move fairly quickly. We’d like to see the next mission launched in 2026, which will get to Mars and pick up the samples, put them into a rocket and propel that sample into orbit around Mars,” said Wallace.
“The sample would then rendezvous with an orbiter and the orbiter would bring the sample back to the Earth.”
Samples should reach Earth “in the course of a decade or so,” he added.
To maximize its chance of unearthing traces of ancient life, Mars 2020 will land in a long dried-up delta called Jezero.
The site, selected after years of scientific debate, is a crater that was once a 500-yard-deep lake.
It was formerly connected to a network of rivers that flowed some 3.5 to 3.9 billion years ago.
The crater measures just under 30 miles (48 km) across, and experts hope it may have preserved ancient organic molecules.
The Mars 2020 mission also carries hopes for an even more ambitious target – a human mission to Mars.
“I think of it, really, as the first human precursor mission to Mars,” said Wallace.
Equipment on board “will allow us to make oxygen” that could one day be used both for humans to breathe, and to fuel the departure from Mars “for the return trip.”
The ambitions come as a new space race hots up, with Beijing increasingly vying to threaten US dominance.
China on Friday launched one of the world’s most powerful rockets in a major step forward for its own planned mission to Mars next year.
NASA’s Mars 2020 will remain active for at least one Martian year, which is around two years on Earth.
But Martian rovers have frequently exceeded their intended lifespans – its predecessor Curiosity landed on Mars in 2012 and is still trundling around the planet’s Mount Sharp region.
Blood moon, big city: Skywatcher captures total lunar eclipse over New York – Galaxy Reporters
The moon during eclipse burns red high above the yellow lights of New York City in beautiful photos caught by novice astronomer Alexander Krivenyshev.
Alexander Krivenyshev is the president of WorldTimeZone.com, who snapped images of the total lunar eclipse on Sunday night (May 15) from Guttenberg, New Jersey, outside the Hudson River from the Big Apple.
Krivenyshev told Space.com through the email that he maintained through cloudy conditions to get shots of the blood-red moon glowing like a beacon in a light-polluted sky.
The eclipse started at 9:32 p.m EDT on Sunday (0132 GMT on May 16) when the moon nosed into the dark part of Earth’s shadow, recognized as the penumbra, and stopped five hours later. The total eclipse phase, in which Earth’s huger umbral shadow blackened the moon, survived 85 minutes longer than any lunar eclipse in 33 years.
Earth’s closest neighbor temporarily turns coppery red during entire lunar eclipses. This “blood moon” impact is caused by Earth’s atmosphere, which bends some red light throughout the lunar surface while scattering away shorter-wavelength light.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) May 18, 2022
Last weekend’s sky show was nicely observed from America and fractions of Western Europe and West Africa. It was the first total lunar eclipse of the year; however, it won’t be the last. One more eclipse will occur on Nov. 8. The Nov. 8 lunar eclipse will be observed from Australia, eastern Asia, and the western United States.
Searching for the Milky Way's Black Hole – Skywatching – Castanet.net
When we look into the southern sky close to the horizon on summer evenings, we are looking towards the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way.
It is lurking around 30,000 light years behind the stars making up the constellation of Sagittarius, “The Archer”. However, thanks to our location in the disc of our galaxy, our view is blocked by huge clouds of stars, gas and dust.
Our first images of the centre of the Milky Way were obtained by means of radio telescopes, which show us what the universe would look like if we could see radio waves rather than light. They revealed a strange, bright and unusually small radio source.
Measurements of the speeds stars orbit the centre of our galaxy indicate that at the same position as the bright radio source lies something very massive, very small and active. The best candidate to explain this is a black hole.
Radio waves have power to penetrate clouds and dust, which is why radar is so useful for navigation, detecting threats and avoiding hazards at night or in bad weather. However, radio waves have this greater penetration power because they are much longer than light waves. This means that to see detail when observing at radio wavelengths we need to use huge antennas.
To have the same ability to discern detail as the human eye, a radio telescope tuned to the wavelength of emissions from cosmic hydrogen (21cm) the antenna would need to be about a kilometre in diameter. Moreover, black holes are small by cosmic standards and at great distances, so to discern any details the radio telescope would need an antenna the size of the Earth.
This sounds impossible, but there is a solution, a technique called “Very Long Baseline Interferometry”.
In the 1960s, Canada was the first country to succeed in combining radio telescopes thousands of kilometres apart so that they would have the detail discerning ability of a radio telescope thousands of kilometres in diameter.
This procedure has made possible a powerful, new astronomical instrument, the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT).
Several radio telescopes, thousands of kilometres apart operate in collaboration to observe the centre of the Milky Way at the same time. One of them is the Atacama Large Millimetre Array, located in Chile, in which Canada is a partner. In addition, scientists at several Canadian universities are involved.
The collaboration is named after the boundary that forms around black holes, called the event horizon. This is a one-way boundary in space-time—stuff can fall in but nothing, not even light, gets out. This is why they are called black holes.
However, even if we cannot see the black holes directly, we can certainly see the disc of material swirling around the black holes as it gets sucked in. This stuff gets very hot, and has intense magnetic fields trapped in it, so the black hole announces itself with radio emissions and X-rays from that disc.
The first target for the Event Horizon Telescope was the galaxy M87, located some 55 million light years away. It had long been suspected that a very energetic black hole lies at its centre, a big one, around 5 billion times the mass of the Sun. The EHT gave us our first image of that black hole.
Then the EHT radio telescopes were turned on the centre of our galaxy, and got our first image of our black hole. Luckily for us, it is much less massive and active than the one at the centre of M87. At four million times the mass of the Sun, it is relatively tiny.
We believe most spiral galaxies have big black holes in their cores. It is not clear whether galaxies get them when they form or they appear later. However, learning about their roles in galaxies should tell us more about how galaxies form and evolve to the point where they develop stars and planets, and because we live in one, it would be nice to know.
• Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn are still lined up in the dawn glow, in order of decreasing brightness.
• The Moon will be new on May 30.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.
Boeing's Starliner approaching ISS in high-stakes test mission – Phys.org
Boeing’s Starliner capsule was preparing to dock with the International Space Station Friday, in a high-stakes uncrewed test flight key to reviving the US aerospace giant’s reputation after a series of failures.
The spaceship blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday evening, and is now set to rendezvous with the ISS at 7:10 pm Eastern Time (2310 GMT), as part of a mission to prove it is capable of providing safe rides for NASA astronauts.
Starliner encountered some propulsion problems early in its journey, with two thrusters responsible for placing it in a stable orbit failing for unclear reasons—though officials insisted everything remained on track.
“Overall, the spacecraft is doing really well,” Steve Sitch, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program told reporters at a post-launch press conference, in which he nonetheless flagged anomalies that engineers are working to understand.
One of 12 orbital maneuvering and attitude control (OMAC) thrusters located on Starliner’s aft side failed after one second, at which point a second thruster kicked in and took over, but also cut out after 25 seconds.
The ship’s software then engaged a third thruster that completed the necessary burn.
The OMAC thrusters are set to be used to bring Starliner closer to the ISS, and to help de-orbit the spacecraft near the end of the mission.
“We’ll go look at the data and try to understand what happened. And then from a redundancy perspective, can we recover those thrusters?” said Sitch.
Starliner’s success is key to repairing Boeing’s frayed reputation after its first launch, back in 2019, failed to dock with the ISS due to software bugs—one that led to it burning too much fuel to reach its destination, and another that could have destroyed the vehicle during re-entry.
A second try was scheduled in August 2021, but the capsule was rolled back from the launchpad to address sticky valves that weren’t opening as they should, and the vessel was eventually sent back to the factory for fixes.
NASA is looking to certify Starliner as a second “taxi” service for its astronauts to the space station—a role that Elon Musk’s SpaceX has provided since succeeding in a test mission for its Dragon capsule in 2020.
Both companies were awarded fixed-price contracts—$4.2 billion to Boeing, and $2.6 billion to SpaceX—in 2014, shortly after the end of the Space Shuttle program, during a time when the United States was left reliant on Russian Soyuz rockets for rides to the orbital outpost.
Boeing, with its hundred-year history, was considered by many as the sure shot, while then-upstart SpaceX was less proven.
In reality, it was SpaceX that rocketed ahead, and recently sent its fourth routine crew to the research platform—while Boeing’s development delays have cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
Starliner should dock with the ISS about 24 hours after launch, and deliver more than 800 pounds of cargo.
Its sole passenger is a mannequin named Rosie the Rocketeer—a play on the World War II campaign icon Rosie the Riveter—whose job is to collect flight data with her sensors in order to learn what human astronauts would experience.
“We are a little jealous of Rosie,” NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, who is expected to be among the first crew selected for a manned demonstration mission should OFT-2 succeed, said at a press conference this week.
The gumdrop-shaped capsule will spend about five days in space, then undock and return to Earth on May 25, using giant parachutes to land in the desert of the western United States.
NASA sees a second provider to low Earth orbit as a vital backup, should SpaceX encounter problems.
© 2022 AFP
Boeing’s Starliner approaching ISS in high-stakes test mission (2022, May 20)
retrieved 20 May 2022
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
What’s Next for the Real Estate Industry?
Russian vodka, caviar and diamonds on new Canadian sanctions list
Smaller telcos could feel the pinch after Ottawa prohibits use of Huawei’s 4G gear
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Global Media Markets, 2015-2020, 2020-2025F, 2030F – TV and Radio Broadcasting, Film and Music, Information Services, Web Content, Search Portals And Social Media, Print Media, & Cable – GlobeNewswire
Media22 hours ago
Taylor Swift is now a Doctor
Health24 hours ago
What’s the Science Behind Why we Often Ignore Good Advice?
Media22 hours ago
Social media post at DP Todd sparks police investigation – My PG Now
Tech16 hours ago
Experience Parallel Search Capabilities on the HUAWEI Mate Xs 2 with Petal Search – Canada NewsWire
News22 hours ago
Abortion accessibility in Canada: The Catholic hospital conflict – CTV News
News21 hours ago
Canada bans Chinese tech giant Huawei from 5G network – CBC News
Tech19 hours ago
Apple's new iPhone privacy ad shows your data on the auction block – AdAge.com
Health22 hours ago
Cases of monkey pox identified in Portugal and America