- BBC World News
The Perseverance robot, which reached the surface of Mars this Thursday, is one of the most high-tech instruments made by humans.
The device developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA, for its acronym in English) it traveled 480 million kilometers, entered Mars at a speed of almost 20,000 km / h and landed in one piece.
It was quite a feat of space engineering, but why did such a sophisticated device send its first images with such low quality?
NASA shared two images of the site where Perseverance was positioned, in the Jazero crater on Mars: “Hello World. My first look at my forever home,” it said on Twitter.
With low quality and in black and white, they show the terrain of the crater.
Those images were the first, low resolution, because that’s how they were planned to be. But they will not be the only ones and the quality will increase, says NASA.
The driving cameras
The first two images sent by Perseverance to Earth were taken by the Hazard Avoidance Cameras (HazCams), six cameras installed to monitor the terrain.
They have the auxiliary function of the controllers to handle the robot and are protected from the turbulent entry to the surface of Mars and its placing on the ground.
“The HazCams detect hazards in the front and rear path of the robot, such as large rocks, ditches or sand dunes. Engineers also use the front HazCams to see where the robotic arm can move to take measurements, take pictures, and collect samples of rock and soil, “explains NASA.
Upon reaching the planet, protective covers transparent about these cameras are stillaban placed, which affect the resolution of the images they capture.
“These first images are low-resolution versions known as ‘thumbnails.’ The higher resolution versions will be available later,” the agency said.
This Friday, more were spread.
Perseverance not only has the Hazcams: has 23 cameras.
Of these, nine are for engineering, seven for scientific work, as well as seven for management (including the six Hazcams.
This weekend, as the robot and its cameras are deployed, as well as data is processed at the control center on Earth, NASA reported.
How do you send the images?
Perseverance has installed three antennas, each with different technologies and uses that serve as “ears” and “voice” for the robot.
The antenna of ultra-high frequency (UHF) it is the link for communications with the Earth.
It does not do it directly, but its signal is sent to NASA orbiters positioned in the vicinity of Mars. From there, the signals are forwarded to the mission control centers on Earth.
“Usually a radio signal takes between 5 and 20 minutes to travel the distance between Mars and Earth “, depending on the position of both planets.
The robot’s mission
El Perseverance will look for evidence of past life on Mars and collect rock samples that will be returned to Earth on a future mission.
It will also test pioneering technologies that will be key to a future human presence on the red planet.
It is NASA’s most ambitious search for life on Mars since the 1970s.
“NASA’s most recent focus has been to explore ancient environments, because the data we have suggests that the planet was more habitable during its first billion years,” one of the mission leaders Ken Williford told Paul Rincón. , BBC science editor.
Perseverance carries scientific instruments that will be able to search for chemical traces of life in Martian rocks. These could include organic compounds, meaning they contain carbon.
You will also be able to look for visual signs of biology, such as fossilized microbial communities.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.