Perseverance will explore the Jezero Crater region of Mars, and will also collect and cache samples of Martian rocks and soil for subsequent missions to collect and return to Earth as part of the joint ESA-Nasa Mars Sample Return campaign.
The Trace Gas Orbiter helped to return the videos and imagery taken by the mission’s onboard cameras during the descent of the rover to the surface of Mars, by providing a data relay.
Nasa’s rover blasted off from Earth last July.
The rover – a scientific laboratory the size of a car – will spend the coming years scouring for signs of ancient microbial life in a mission that will prepare the way for future human visitors.
Scientists know that 3.5 billion years ago Jezero was the site of a large lake, complete with its own delta.
“The next generation of UK citizens have so much to offer the world, and so I would encourage anyone who has dreamt of pushing the boundaries of what is possible to take this opportunity to be part of ESA’s future cohort of space pioneers.”
British citizens of any age are invited to apply, and the ESA is also issuing a special call for candidates with physical disabilities to apply to its astronaut reserve.
The pilot project aims to open the astronaut career path to people who have previously been excluded from space flight.
Those with a lower-limb deficiency or who are considered to be of short stature and meet other recruitment criteria are invited to apply.
But it sounds like the mission did leave some room for improvement — there were issues with the toilet, Space.com reports.
“It was very clean mission from start to finish,” SpaceX human spaceflight programs lead Benji Reed said during a press conference following the successful landing on Saturday. “We had a couple of issues that we worked, we did work something on the Waste Management System, but that was worked [out] fine and, you know, the crew was happy and healthy.”
Sucking Up Waste
The toilet — located underneath the massive glass cupola no less — is radically different from the ones you find on Earth. In the simplest terms, they are two vacuum tubes for sucking up pee and poop that rely on suction fans to remove waste.
We don’t know exactly what the issue was yet with the Waste Management System, but it involved the suction fan, according to Reed. It’s also unclear whether the malfunction had anything to do with the surprising decision not to release photos or videos inside the spaceship during the journey.
Inspiration4 was a little different than preceding Crew Dragon flights. The crew spent three whole days in the tiny capsule instead of less than 24 hours, the maximum length of a trip to the International Space Station.
Unfortunately, the crew wasn’t actually able to catch glimpses of the Earth while doing their business as the hatch had to be closed during toilet use, according to Space.com.
The space tourists have yet to speak out about their toilet experience — but fortunately, it sounds like the issue was quickly resolved.
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