It was “seven minutes of terror” that had a big payoff: NASA’s Mars Perseverance safely landed on the surface of the red planet last Thursday. And, for the first time, the edge-of-your-seat descent was captured by high-definition video cameras, which NASA released on Monday.
“Now we finally have a front-row view to what we call ‘the seven minutes of terror’ while landing on Mars,” Michael Watkins, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, which manages the mission for the agency, said in a press release.
Getting spacecraft to Mars is no easy feat. About half of missions to the red planet have ended in failure. And getting a rover safely on the surface is even more challenging. In the past, NASA used airbags that protected the rover as it bounced safely to its final resting spot.
But in 2012, its Curiosity rover used an innovative — and complicated — landing procedure that involved using a rocket-powered crane to gently lower the rover to the surface. It was a success, and this method was once again used with Perseverance.
WATCH | NASA release video of different perspectives of Mars Perseverance landing:
“I think you will feel like you are getting a glimpse as to what it would be like to land in Jezero Crater with Perseverance,” Matt Wallace, Perseverance deputy project manager at JPL, said during NASA’s press conference ahead of the video release on Monday.
And the cameras do indeed provide an incredible glimpse into the series of all the things that needed to happen with incredible precision to deliver Perseverance to the surface.
The video picks up after the rover entered the thin Martian atmosphere at a breakneck speed of 19,000 km/h after which its supersonic parachute deployed, further slowing it to 320 km/h.
The heat shield is then released and is seen falling to the surface as the rover’s eight descent-stage rockets took over, reducing the speed to about 2.6 km/h. That’s when the tricky “skycrane” maneouvre initiated.
The dusty descent
Roughly 12 seconds before touchdown, the descent stage lowered the rover from a set of 6.4-metre long cables. Dust is seen being kicked up from the surface as the rover unfurled its legs and wheels into landing position. Once the rover sensed that it had touched the ground, the cables were quickly cut with the descent stage flying off safely away from the rover.
All of this had to go off without a hitch. And fortunately, it did, with video to prove it.
Nominal = millions of things went right and we managed to get a rover off Earth, into space, travel millions of miles, arrive at Mars, slow down through a transformers like landing, and then communicate with orbiters and a deep space network
The rover collected 23,000 images of the descent and 30 gigabytes of information with cameras looking both upward as the descent stage lowered Perseverance to the ground and downward as dust was kicked up by the rockets.
“I can and have watched those videos for hours,” Al Chen, Perseverance entry, descent, and landing (EDL) lead at JPL, said at the press conference. “I keep seeing new stuff every time.”
The microphone didn’t pick up the descent due to what engineers believe may have been a communication error, though it is now working on the surface and has sent back audio.
LISTEN | Sounds from the Mars Perseverance Rover (with rover noise filtered out):
Along with the video, NASA also released several new images.
“I had no idea that it would be this amazing,” said Justin Maki, Perseverance imaging scientist and instrument operations team chief. “When I saw these images come down I have to say, I was truly amazed. I know it’s been a tough year for everybody, and we’re hoping these images will brighten peoples’ day.”
And there are even “Easter eggs” hidden on Perseverance.
Did you all find the easter egg on the deck? The family car sticker with Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity, Perseverance and Ingenuity! <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CountdownToMars?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CountdownToMars</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Mars2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Mars2020</a> <a href=”https://t.co/C0GzJPxnPr”>pic.twitter.com/C0GzJPxnPr</a>
The new 20 megapixel colour cameras are higher-resolution than any of those before it, with wide angle lenses that are used as the rover drives.
“This is it. This is Mars. It really is the surface of an alien world.”
Now, as more of the rover comes online, the scientists and engineers said more — and better — is yet to come.
Perseverance will also begin to find a suitable location where it will deploy Ingenuity, a helicopter that will be a test for future missions to the red planet.
“We’re just beginning to do amazing things on the surface of Mars,” said Dave Gruel, Perseverance EDL camera lead.
For raw images released by NASA’s Perseverance rover, you can visit their multimedia site.
What caused Alta.'s fireball Monday? U of A scientists solve 'incredible mystery' – CTV Edmonton
We’re learning more about the fireball so many Albertans saw streak across the dark sky early Monday morning.
Thanks to the University of Alberta’s fireball monitoring network, scientists are now able to say that bright streak was a small piece of a comet that burned up in Earth’s atmosphere.
According to the U of A’s Faculty of Science, Western Canada’s most advanced fireball monitoring network also helped in determining the trajectory and velocity of the meteor, as well as its origin.
“This chunk was largely made of dust and ice, burning up immediately without leaving anything to find on the ground, but instead giving us a spectacular flash,” Patrick Hill, from U of A’s Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, said in a news release.
That flash was seen throughout Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan at 6:23 a.m. Monday, due to the unusually high altitude of the fireball.
Normally a rocky object will burn up between 15 to 20 kilometres above the ground after entering the atmosphere, but U of A scientists say Monday’s fireball happened at an altitude of 46 kilometres.
That’s how so many people, and cameras, were able to see the natural light show.
“All meteoroids – objects that become meteors once they enter Earth’s atmosphere – enter at the same altitude and then start to burn up with friction,” explained Hill. “Sturdier, rocky meteoroids can sometimes survive to make it to the ground, but because this was going so fast and was made of weaker material, it flashed out much higher in the atmosphere and was visible from much farther away.”
U of A scientists believe the final point on its trajectory was 120 kilometres north of Edmonton.
They say the small piece of comet debris, likely only tens of centimteres across in size, travelled at a rate of more than 220,000 kilometres an hour before entering Earth’s atmosphere.
“This incredible speed and the orbit of the fireball tell us that the object came at us from way out at the edge of the solar system, telling us it was a comet, rather than a relatively slower rock coming from the asteroid belt,” Chris Herd, curator of the UAlberta Meteorite Collection and professor in the Faculty of Science, said in a news release.
“Comets are made up of dust and ice and are weaker than rocky objects, and hitting our atmosphere would have been like hitting a brick wall for something travelling at this speed,” Herd added.
The team from the U of A used dark-sky images from the Hesje Observatory at the Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station and at Lakeland College’s observation station in Vermilion to make their calculations.
Unlike the Buzzard Coulee meteorite from November 2008, which produced a similar fireball effect, there most likely won’t be anything remaining to find on the ground.
Still, Herd and Hill are pleased with their learnings.
“This is an incredible mystery to have solved,” said Herd. “We’re thrilled that we caught it on two of our cameras, which could give everyone who saw this amazing fireball a solution.”
Take a look around Mars with Perseverance rover's HD photo panorama – Global News
The space agency released the panorama footage on Wednesday, a few days after it successfully landed its Perseverance rover in the Jezero Crater on Mars.
“The newly released panorama reveals the crater rim and cliff face of an ancient river delta in the distance,” NASA said in a news release.
It also reveals the scene around the rover in extremely high detail, so that you can actually see the rivets on the vehicle and the pores in individual Martian rocks.
The interactive footage is a bit like Google Maps on Mars. You can swipe, drag or zoom the camera to take a look at the full 360-degree field of view around Perseverance, thanks to 142 high-definition photos that have been stitched together.
Click on the image below to explore the panorama footage from Mars.
Perseverance captured the photos with its Mastcam-Z camera over the weekend. The high-definition camera can pick out details as small as 3 to 5 millimetres at close range, and between 2 to 3 metres across on the mountainous horizon, according to NASA.
Richmond company goes to Mars
NASA says the view from Perseverance is similar to what it has seen at past landing sites.
“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,” said Jim Bell, NASA’s principal investigator for the camera, in the news release.
NASA researchers have already started picking out interesting sights from the Martian surface, including a rock formation that appears to have been carved by the merciless Martian wind.
The rover’s primary mission is to search for signs of ancient life on Mars, and to eventually send samples of the Martian surface back to Earth for analysis.
One of the first steps in that mission is to scan the crater’s surface for rocks that are worthy of closer inspection.
The crater was once a lake filled with liquid water, but that water disappeared about three billion years ago.
Significance of NASA’s historic landing on Mars
Scientists hope that some forms of microbial life might have lived in that ancient sea, and that their microscopic remains can be found in the rock and soil on the surface today.
The rover will eventually collect several samples, package them up and leave them at designated retrieval points, where a future mission will one day retrieve them and fly them back to Earth.
NASA will also scan the photos for a flat spot where it can launch the rover’s miniature helicopter.
All those efforts start with reviewing the same panorama photos that NASA has now released to the public.
That means you can join scientists in scanning the photos for interesting details on the distant Martian surface.
You probably won’t spot any fossilized aliens laying around — but who says you can’t at least try?
© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Mats Zuccarello with a Goal vs. Colorado Avalanche – Yahoo Canada Sports
(Athletes Unlimited – image credit) Brie King enjoys three main passions: volleyball, church and music. “Everything I do for the church is because I want to. It’s giving back for me. Volleyball is my total passion. I love volleyball so much. And music has just been this incredible gift that has really just naturally come easy,” King said. King, 23, of Langley, B.C., is the lone Canadian set to compete in the Athletes Unlimited volleyball season that begins on Saturday. CBCSports.ca has live coverage of select games beginning Saturday at 8 p.m. ET. A member of the senior national indoor volleyball team, King played collegiately at Trinity Western in her hometown before skipping her senior season to turn pro in Germany. Now, she’ll compete in the inaugural AU volleyball campaign. The pro women’s sports league launched last summer with softball and will introduce a lacrosse league in July. At the same time, King is continuing to lead Zoom services for the church she and husband Jeremy began during the pandemic. If that wasn’t enough, as a musician and singer she has an album set to be released early in the summer. “I feel like I have to be so wild into volleyball, especially with the format. It’s like a really heavy game and not a lot of off-time. … I thought about buying a guitar or a small little keyboard while I’m here just to have some fun, but who knows?,” King said. Athletes Unlimited employs a different format than the typical North American pro league: players switch teams every week for the six-week duration, with individual points earned and subtracted for things like aces and errors. Points are also earned for winning individual sets and overall matches. Those matches are played in three sets up to 25 points, with the winner of the match the team who scored the most. “They’ve really made it clear [that] a team wins and the games, matches, those all account for a lot more than the individual points. And I think it’s a really accurate reflection, honestly, of what the sport is,” King said. King, No. 26, goes up for a block during a practice. King arrived in Dallas, where the entire season will be played, in early February. After a three-day hotel-room quarantine, she began practice along the 43 other athletes in attendance, including six Olympians. Canada’s women’s indoor volleyball team failed to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, but King says all eyes are on Paris 2024. She’ll begin her season on a team with Brazilian Olympian Sheilla Castro and Dominican counterpart Bethania De La Cruz. “The experience to play with these players that I’ve grown up watching and learning from, it feels like once in a lifetime. I really can’t believe it. And in a lot of ways, we’re peers in the sense that we’re teammates and we’re working together to achieve the same goal. But I feel like I’m getting so much better as a player and a human by being around such high-level experience,” she said. Proximity to home is key King, a second-round pick in the AU draft, said there’s already been interest from teammates and competitors in joining her Sunday services. She’s already seen the difference even an online congregation can make in our socially distanced lives. “I think that’s been the most beautiful part is just seeing people not have their circumstances change, but be able to change where their heart and mind is at,” she said. Proximity to family became increasingly important to King during the pandemic. She had an offer to play professionally in Turkey, but when a Canadian coach called her with the Athletes Unlimited opportunity, its location was the biggest draw. “It kind of feels like the U.S. and Canada together on the same team in terms of international volleyball. And it’s kind of a dream of every young girl in the U.S. and Canada to get to play closer to home,” King said. Players are paid relative to their final place in the standings. AU matches 50 per cent of that salary to be donated to charities of that individual’s choice. They also receive behind-the-scenes training from a league advisory board that includes NBA MVP Kevin Durant, softball great Jessica Mendoza, Hockey Hall of Famer Angela Ruggiero, World Cup champion Abby Wambach and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Those workshops include brand development, financial management and more, all in an effort to make the athletes the focus of the fledgling league. Despite an active church and a budding music career, for the next six weeks King’s main focus will return to her profession. “When I think about when this is done, I’m so excited to feel like I just gained a ton of knowledge and got a lot better at volleyball.”
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