Tuesday, March 9

Perseverance about to land on Mars


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There are several images of space stuck in our retinas. The first is undoubtedly that of Neil Armstrong dressed in a spacesuit walking on the Moon in 1969. Another iconic photograph is that of Saturn, first captured by the probe Viking 1 in 1981. Hubble It has also provided us with incredible images, including the impressive Nebula of the Pillars of Creation. Now the mission Mars 2020 adds one more to the historic space album: the Perseverance rover landing on Mars.

New technology has allowed data to arrive less than a day after the NASA managed to land a new vehicle on the red planet, although not from the rover itself, like the first image that confirmed the arrival of Perseverance, but from the descent capsule that landed it on Martian soil. In it, you can see how the nylon ropes still held the vehicle, which was only two kilometers from the surface.

“It is an iconic image that, with yesterday’s, shows the great work the team has done over these eight years,” he said at an online press conference Adam steltzner, chief engineer of Perseverance. You can see the rover descending, the dust around the engines and the surface of Mars. It is something that has never been achieved until now.

Other Martian images

Other photos have been shown at the same conference, such as a clear image of one of the rover’s wheels, in which you can see some small and medium rocks around the vehicle’s wheels. ‘We have to find out if they are volcanic or sedimentary in origin, which could change the expected scenario a lot. Even so, we will have to wait for new data and higher resolution to be sure, “he explained. Stacie Stack Morgan, a geologist at NASA’s JPL. “The camera has such a resolution that you can even see holes in the rocks, which in the future will tell us a lot about its composition even before the rover gets going.”

An image captured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter from NASA in which you can see the moment in which the spacecraft had already deployed the supersonic parachute and was over the Jezero crater. In addition, the resolution of the images that arrived just after landing has been improved, including the color, and in which you can see the Canyon de Chelly, a fracture zone that presents different conditions to the Perseverance landing site. “It is a very interesting place to approach to investigate, since we have been able to observe from the orbiters that its composition surely differs from the rest of the crater.

These will not be the last images we see in the next few days. NASA officials have advanced that during the weekend they will work to collect all the data sent from Perseverance and make it public “as soon as possible.” «We hope that more photographs will arrive in the next few hours that we will be able to develop as of Monday, just like the sound recording that Perseverance caught during its landing, which can probably be heard later this week, early next week, ”confirmed Steltzner.

In the coming days, engineers will pore over the rover’s system data, update its software, and begin testing its various instruments. In the coming weeks, Perseverance will put his robotic arm to the test and take his first short trip. It will take at least a month or two for Perseverance to find a flat spot to allow the helicóptero Ingenuity, attached to the ‘belly’ of the rover, carry out your first flights. “This is a really exciting time and a huge step in space exploration,” concluded Steltzner.

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