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NASA's Perseverance Mars rover landing will be must-see TV – CNET

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An illustration of Perseverance during its descent to the Martian surface.


NASA

NASA is about 10 days away from landing a shiny new robot on the surface of Mars, and for the first time, we’ll be able to see and hear what it’s like to touch down on another world.

Perseverance is due to land in Jezero Crater on Feb. 18, becoming the first artificial object to land on the surface since the Mars Insight lander in 2018 and the first rover since Curiosity touched down in 2012.

But the new rover on the block is carrying more audio-visual gear than its predecessors to capture portions of the pivotal entry, descent and landing, or EDL, phase of the mission. A camera mounted on the back shell of the spacecraft is pointed up and will be able to catch a view of the parachutes that will deploy during descent to slow Perseverance as it comes in for its landing. Beneath this is a downward-pointing camera on the descent stage, which further slows and orients the rover for landing. 

Finally, the rover itself is equipped with cameras and a microphone. Altogether, this suite of tech should provide us with the most detailed images and audio of a landing on Mars yet.

“We’re going to be able to watch ourselves land for the first time on another planet,” Lori Glaze, who heads the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, told reporters during a briefing last month.

camerascameras

Perseverance carries its own audio-visual rigging.


NASA

The entire EDL phase will last only about seven minutes, but EDL lead Allen Chen calls it “the most critical and most dangerous part of the mission.”

Perseverance will hit the Martian atmosphere traveling at almost 12,000 miles per hour  (19,312 kilometers per hour), streaking across the sky as it begins to slow down. A 70-foot (21 meters) diameter parachute will deploy to slow it further. Afterward, its heat shield is released and radar is activated to help it determine its own location. 

At an altitude of about one mile (1.5 kilometers), the descent module fires its engines and a new terrain relative navigation system, or TRN, kicks in to identify a safe landing spot. TRN is basically a sort of computer vision that allows the spacecraft to look at the terrain below and match it up with maps in its database.


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The system slows down to a literal crawl, and then it’s time for “sky crane,” the same sort of hovering landing system the Curiosity rover used, which will allow Perseverance to basically lower itself softly to the surface.

This whole process will be fully automated without any input from mission control because of the delay in sending radio signals back and forth from Mars to the Earth.

Perseverance carries a number of science instruments to help look for signs of ancient life on our neighboring world, to collect samples that will be returned to Earth and to test some technologies for future Mars missions.

Also, it has a tiny helicopter.

Robots have spent years rolling around Mars, which is pretty cool, but for the first time NASA will use a small helicopter, dubbed Ingenuity, to try flying around the planet.


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But before Ingenuity can fly, Perseverance has to nail its landing first. While its cameras and microphones will capture much of this whole process, there won’t be a live feed like we’ve become accustomed to from the International Space Station or most launches from Earth. That’s because the data relay Perseverance will be using during EDL is slower than even old dial-up connections.

However, after landing it will be able to use the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to send images back to Earth. Chen estimates that we’ll be able to see at least some low-res images of the environment around Perseverance on the surface shortly after landing. We may have to wait a few days for more imagery and audio that paint the full picture of the landing process.

We will, however, have live feeds from mission control, which provided some of the more iconic images from the Curiosity landing. (Mohawk guy, anyone?) Of course, COVID-19 protocols will be in effect at mission control, but it’s unlikely that even the pandemic will dampen the celebration of a successful landing.

“I don’t think that COVID is going to be able to stop us from jumping up and down and fist bumping,” said Deputy Project Manager Matt Wallace. “You’re going to see a lot of happy people no matter what, once we get this thing on the surface safely.”

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar. 

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Calgary-based EVANS ‘proud’ to be part of NASA’s Perseverance rover project – Global News

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Calgarians working at a tech company are proud to see their work in action as NASA’s Perseverance rover gathers samples from a planet millions of kilometres away.

EVANS’ chief technology officer Matko Papic said the company, which was founded in Calgary in 1980, has been a global player in aviation, public safety and space operations and has focused on designing and equipping control rooms for decades.

He said the company gets involved with the early planning and detailed designs of the space and then designs the consoles specific to customer requirements, they do all the manufacturing and support their customers globally.

Their latest collaboration was on Perseverance, NASA’s rover that landed on Mars earlier this month.

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The rover specializes in travelling the planet Mars to look for signs of ancient life and pick up a wide range of core rock and soil samples and store them safely, so they can be returned to earth and studied.

EVANS supplied control room consoles to the company in Texas, and Papic said the employees we thrilled with being a part of the project.

“You know, we as a … Calgary-based company are very fortunate and very proud to … be able to be a part of this program.” Papic said

“It’s both a sense of pride and a little bit of a sense of relief. But I think it’s mainly … pride that’s just, you know, being involved even in such a small piece.”

Papic told Global News that there are lots of future opportunities and EVANS is excited to continue to be a part of projects like this.


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NASA releases 1st video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars


NASA releases 1st video of Perseverance rover landing on Mars

He said that navigating a mission from northeast Calgary when all the equipment is in Houston is not an easy task, but it is very doable.

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“I think a big part of that is we’ve been able to develop a very unique and value-added product offering, and I think the fact that we support our customers and every aspect of their operational needs and the fact that we can support our customers globally, Papic said.

“With these specific solutions its really made a difference and its helped evolve EVANS into a global player.”

EVANS involvement in Perseverance was primarily in the control room and all elements were designed and manufactured in Calgary.

“That’s usually where Evans does most of our work is within the control room environment, and it varies by the type of mission. But they’re all control rooms that require continuous monitoring.” Papic said

Papic mentioned that due to high-level requirements, these projects can take quite some time to complete.

“We want to make sure that we’re focusing on capturing all the requirements and making sure that the design is absolutely perfect because the last thing we want is, you know, something that Evans provided to be a hindrance in the overall mission and so we’re very, very diligent to making sure that everything is functioning perfectly before it actually gets commissioned and goes live.” Papic said

The company’s relationship with NASA began decades ago as they began supporting them on some of the space shuttle missions both from a mission and launch control standpoint. EVANS has been involved with some other well-known projects.

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“We’ve done projects for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory; we’ve done projects for the Hubble Space Telescope, so different programs within NASA,” Papic said.

“And we’ve been very fortunate as an organization that NASA continued to see us as a partner in helping them develop some of these solutions.”


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© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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New Mars image from rover landing site shows the red planet in high definition – CTV News

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The Perseverance rover has had a chance to settle in on Mars since landing last Thursday, so it’s doing what every new resident does these days — sending back photos of its new home.

In this case, it’s a steady stream of amazing imagery from another planet.

The rover’s Mastcam-Z instrument, a pair of zoomable color cameras, returned 142 images of its landing site on February 21. The teams at NASA stitched them together to create the instrument’s first 360-degree panorama.

This is the first high-definition look at Jezero Crater, the site of a 3.9 billion-year-old dry lake bed where the rover will search for signs of ancient life over the next two years.

In the image, the crater rim and the cliff face of an ancient river delta can be seen in the distance. It’s not unlike images shared previously by NASA’s Curiosity rover of its exploration site in Gale Crater.

“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, principal investigator of the Mastcam-Z instrument at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, in a statement.

Perseverance also sent back a panorama using its Navcams, or navigation cameras, over the weekend.

Mastcam-Z is a new feature on Perseverance that builds off of lessons learned from the Curiosity rover’s Mastcam instrument. Curiosity’s Mastcam has two cameras with a fixed focal length, while Mastcam-Z has zooming capability.

These two cameras are like high-definition eyes on Perseverance as she shares her view with a team of scientists and engineers at home.

They sit on the rover’s mast, reaching eye level for a person who stands just over 6 and a half feet tall. The cameras are 9.5 inches apart to allow for stereo vision.

The color imagery produced by Mastcam-Z is a lot like the quality you would expect from your own digital HD camera, NASA officials said. These cameras can not only zoom but also can focus to capture video, panoramas and 3D images.

This will allow scientists on the mission’s team to examine objects that are both close and far away from the rover.

In the panorama, details as small as 0.1 to 0.2 inches across can be seen if an object is near the rover, while those between 6.5 to 10 feet across in the distance are also visible.

These capabilities will aid the overall goals of the mission in both understanding the geologic history of the crater and identifying the types of rock that the rover’s other instruments should study. The views afforded by Mastcam-Z will also help scientists determine which rocks they should collect samples from that will eventually be returned to Earth by future missions.

The team working on the Mastcam-Z instrument will share more details about the panorama Thursday, February 25 at 4 p.m. ET on NASA’s website and social media accounts.

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The best images from NASA's Perseverance rover so far – CTV News

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TORONTO —
Almost as soon as NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on Mars it was beaming back images of its surroundings.

The first pictures were black and white and a little grainy. They were soon followed by video and high definition images of the rocks, ridges and the rover itself.

Here’s a collection of some of the best images to come from Perseverance’ so far.

FIRST IMAGES

First image from Perseverance

This is the first image NASA’s Perseverance rover sent back after touching down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. The view, from one of Perseverance’s Hazard Cameras, is partially obscured by a dust cover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

First colour image from Perseverance

Perseverance’s shadow can be seen in this image, the first one in colour sent by the rover. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

TOUCHDOWN

Perseverance's descent

As a teaser to some of the ground-breaking video to come, NASA released this image of Perseverance being gently lowered onto Mars’s surface during its descent on Feb. 18. (NASA via AP) 

SECRET MESSAGE

Perseverance's secret message

In video sent back by Perseverance, we can see the spacecraft’s parachute open, revealing a mix of white and orange markings on the inside. These were later revealed to be part of secret message left by NASA systems engineer Ian Clark. Clark used binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” on the stripes of the 21-metre parachute. Also included were the GPS coordinates of the mission’s headquarters in Pasadena, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

HD PANORAMAS

Panorama from Perseverance

While we’ve seen panorama images from previous rover missions, Perseverance’s high definition cameras are revealing details from Mars like we’ve never seen before. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

WIND-CARVED ROCK

Wind-carved rock on Mars

This oddly-shaped rock carved by the elements on Mars’ surface was spotted near Perseverance’s landing zone and is an example of the high-quality images that we can expect from the rover’s cameras. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

ROVER ‘FAMILY HISTORY’

Rover 'family history'

Along with loads of science instruments Perseverance is also boasting a decal showing the history of NASA’s rovers on Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/MSSS)

TRIBUTE TO DESCENT STAGE

'Moment of respect' for the descent stage

“A moment of respect for the descent stage,” NASA tweeted from the Perseverance’s twitter account after about a week after the landing. The image above shows a smoke plume from where the descent stage (the part of the spacecraft that lowered Perseverance gently to Mars’ surface) made its “intentional surface impact.” (@NASAPersevere/Twitter)

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