The spacecraft designed to land on Mars jumped over the planet, was burned when entering, hit the ground, was shot down in a fierce sandstorm, and only spit out a fuzzy gray picture before death.
Nearly 50 years after Mars’ first death, NASA is trying to make the most difficult Mars landing so far.
The rover named “Perseverance” will drive to a compact 5 mile by 4 mile (8 km by 6.4 km) area on the edge of an ancient river delta on Thursday. It is full of cliffs, pits, sand dunes and rocky fields, any of which is destined to complete a $3 billion (about 21,800 crore) mission. The once submerged terrain can also retain evidence of past life, and there is even more reason to collect samples at this location in order to return to the earth 10 years from now.
Although NASA has tried its best to ensure success, “there are always people who worry that it will not function properly, but it will not proceed smoothly,” the landing team engineer Erisa Stilley said on Tuesday. “Recently, we have successfully performed many tasks, and you never want to be the next failed task. When it happens, it’s heartbreaking.”
Take a look at NASA’s latest mission:
Master of Mars
8 of NASA’s 9 landing attempts were successful, making the United States the only country that successfully reached its goal. China hopes to become the second country with its own life-seeking roamers at the end of its spring. Its ship entered Mars orbit with a spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates last week. The extremely thin atmosphere of the Red Planet makes it difficult to be safe. Since the early 1970s, Russia has suffered the most on Mars and Phobos. The European Space Agency also tried and failed. Two NASA landers are still buzzing: the Curiosity rover in 2012 and InSight in 2018. Perseverance was launched in July last year and will land about 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) at Jezero Crater, landing by parachutes, rocket engines and aerial cranes. Millions of lines of software code and thousands of electrical components must work accurately. “There is no turning back. There is no retry,” project deputy manager Matt Wallace said Wednesday.
The hardest landing
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) equipped the 1-ton Hengxin (an enhanced version of Curiosity) with the latest landing technology to cope with this landing. A new self-driving tool will calculate the distance from the rover to the target location and release a huge parachute at a precise moment. Then another system will scan the ground and compare the observations with the on-board map. When looking for a safe Neil Armstrong style safety car, the rover can travel up to 2,000 feet (600 meters). Without these gadgets, Jezero Crater is too risky to take the plunge. Once it falls, six-wheel perseverance should be the best driver in Mars history, with greater autonomy and range than curiosity. Chief Engineer Adam Steltzner explained: “Percy has a new set of kicks, and she is ready to create trouble on the surface of Mars with the new wheels.”
Looking for signs of life
Where there is water, there may be life. This is why NASA hopes to persevere to spy around Jezero Crater, which was once a lake fed by a river. It’s dry now, but 3.5 billion years ago, this Martian lake was as big and wet as Lake Tahoe in Nevada and California. The gritty will fire lasers on rocks that are judged to be most likely to contain evidence of past microscopic life, analyze the vapors emitted, and delve into the best candidates. Dozens of core samples (about one pound (one-half kilogram) of rock and dust) will be placed in the sealed titanium tube for future use.
Round trip ticket
Scientists have been hoping to master Martian rocks since NASA sailors provided the first close-up photos half a century ago. NASA is working with the European Space Agency to do this. This bold plan calls for rover and return rockets to be launched to Mars in 2026 to recover Perseverance’s sample stash. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) expects to bring these rocks back as early as 2031, which is several years before the first astronauts may arrive. According to NASA, the super sterile sample tube of the rover is the cleanest component ever sent into space, avoiding any traces of contamination of the earth.
COVID-19 prevention measures
Speaking of cleanliness, NASA’s Mars mission control has never been spotless. The masked flight controller will no longer have the luck of passing a can of peanuts before landing forever, which is a tradition of good luck decades ago, but the masked flight controller will have its own independent luggage bag. This is one of many COVID-19 prevention measures at the California Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The landing team will be distributed in multiple rooms, with NASA bosses and reporters watching from a distance. The apt name “Perseverance” (Perseverance), which was launched in July last year, has a plaque to commemorate the medical staff who fought the virus in the past year.
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