Persevere’s second year on Mars should be more exciting than the first.
car size perseverance rover She landed inside Jezero Crater on the Red Planet on February 18, 2021, where she was tasked with searching for ancient signs. Mars life And collect dozens of samples to return to Earth in the future.
Jezero which is 28 miles (45 kilometers) wide is a great place to do the work MarsExpedition team members say, because it hosted a large lake and river delta in the ancient past. Here on Earth, river deltas are great at preserving carbon-containing organic compounds — the building blocks of life as we know it — and the remnants of life itself, so persistence healers are keen to check out the Jezero Delta. And they should start doing so in earnest in the coming months.
Related: 12 stunning photos from the first year of the Perseverance rover on Mars
Perseverance science team member Briony Horgan, associate professor of planetary sciences at Purdue University, said in a statement Posted by school this week.
“Delta Jezero Crater is the reason we chose our landing site, and we hope to get there later this spring,” Horgan said. “Once we get there, we’ll be able to look at the bottom of the ancient lake that once filled Jezero to look for signs of ancient microbial life, and we plan to spend the entire next year traveling through ancient lake sediments and ancient river sediments found within the delta.”
An eventful first year
Perseverance isn’t the only NASA robot exploring the Jezero Crater. The rover has landed a small helicopter called Ingenuity, which is designed to demonstrate the potential for aerial reconnaissance on Mars Despite the thin air of the planet. (The Mars atmosphere It is only 1% of the Earth’s density at sea level.)
cleverness Posted from Belly Perseverance on April 3. Over the next five weeks, the 4 lb (1.8 kg) helicopter made five groundbreaking flights, which the craft has supported and trusted for future generations. (All connections between creativity and earth are directed through perseverance.)
With Ingenuity’s primary mission successfully completed, Perseverance was free to start focusing exclusively on its own needs. the wanderer Its first scientific campaign began in early June I tried to collect the first sample two months later.
The first attempt did not go well; The target rock collapsed under the percussion drill, and the resulting pieces did not reach the specified titanium tube. But the rover bounced back quickly, scooping up a core dug out of a boulder called ‘Rochet’. In early September.
Pictures: NASA’s Mars Probe Mission to the Red Planet
Perseverance built on that initial success, and amassed five more rocks so far. Technically, these six cores make up only three samples, because the mission team collects a replica at each site. (The rover also carries an “atmosphere sample”—the sealed tube from the first unsuccessful drilling attempt.)
It appears that the six cores were taken from rocks that were part of the ancient lava flow, Horgan said. She added that this is exciting because igneous rocks can be accurately dated in laboratories on Earth. So, once persistence samples land here – which can happen As early as 2031 Scholars will be able to gain a better understanding of Jezero’s history and development.
The Jezero igneous rocks also appear to have been altered by interaction with liquid water, said Kevin Hand of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, co-leader of the Persevere 1 science expedition.
This isn’t terribly surprising, given that Jezero Island has been hosting a body of water the size of Lake Tahoe billions of years ago. But the discovery is significant and exciting, because “the interactions of water and rock can produce chemical energy that can help create life and energy,” Hand told Space.com.
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The road ahead
Perseverance has already begun to investigate the ancient Jezero Delta, Checking a hill called Kodiak This is an isolated remnant of the feature.
This work was performed early in the mission from afar, using Perseverance’s Mastcam-Z imaging kit and a camera on the staging rock. SuperCam . Tool – It was fruitful, confirming the existence of the ancient lake and river delta. But a close-up look will be much more productive, and it should be rolled out soon.
During its first science expedition, Perseverance explored a large swath of Jezero, navigating all the way to a rugged part of the crater floor called South Séítah. But this phase of the mission is now over, and the rover is heading to its landing site.
This retreat has been the plan all along. It’s the safest way to get to the delta, the target site for the mission’s second science expedition. Going there straight from south of Sitah would be a risky proposition, forcing perseverance to cross sand dunes and other rugged terrain.
Perseverance had a great time during the return trip, covering at least 787 feet (240 meters) of ground recently on two different days – Farther than any other spacecraft on Mars has ever traveled in one day. Such driving feats are enabled by Perseverance’s autonomous navigation feature, which puts route choice largely in the hands of the rover.
“Rover planners – the brilliant engineers who drive rover – have the full license now to hire autonav on rover and drive, drive, and drive,” Hand said.
He added that perseverance is likely to return to the landing site area within the next two weeks. Once there, the rover will collect two core samples from a rock that the mission team calls “chal” (Navajo means “frog”). After that, it will be time to direct it towards the delta.
Hand said the team has not decided which part of the delta to target. Perseverance may roll into a Kodiak, or it may head toward a piece of the larger, contiguous structure.
Wherever perseverance goes in the near future, you are likely to get some help from a friend. Creativity is still going strong, now flying under an extended mission awarded by NASA after the small helicopter concluded its technology demonstration campaign last May.
Ingenuity now has 19 flights to the Red Planet, many of which have collected valuable reconnaissance data for the Perseverance Team. Hand described the creativity’s longevity as the persistence mission’s biggest surprise to date. It was a pleasant surprise, to say the least.
“Creativity continues to pioneer the amazing prospects that have helped guide us on the way forward to perseverance,” Hand said.
Mike Wall is the author of “AbroadBook (Great Grand Publishing House, 2018; illustrated by Carl Tate), a book on the search for extraterrestrials. Follow him on Twitter Tweet embed. Follow us on Twitter Tweet embed or on Facebook.
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